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Build a resilient grocery workforce

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In an era where agility is the must-have survival skill for grocers, your people have to be ready for anything. Support them right or get left behind. axonify.com/grocery


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Grocers and retailers get results with Axonify:

%

5-10

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2M+

83

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of users log in 2—3x per week

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%

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GENNEXT 2021: 90 AWARD WINNERS MAKING GROCERY GREAT

EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH What shoppers want now BREAKFAST SALES SIZZLE Ham and Sausage STORE SANITATION Grocers’ pest priorities

A FLAIR FOR FO D TARGET gets serious

about grocery! Chief Food and Beverage Officer RICK GOMEZ explains why and how

October 2021

Volume 100, Number 10 www.progressivegrocer.com


Your store of their hands. higher conversion on mobile than on desktop

1

Offer a mobile shopping experience that captures more customers with your branding. Bring together your digital merchandising, weekly ad, coupons, loyalty, ecommerce - all in one spot.

1

Williams, Robert. “DTC Marketers See Higher Engagement for Ads on Mobile than Desktop, Study Says.” MarketingDive, MarketingDive, 29 Aug. 2019, www.marketingdive.com/news/dtcmarketers-see-higher-engagement-for-ads-on-mobile-than-desktop-study-s/561905.



Contents 10. 21

Volume 100 Issue 10

74 Features COVER STORY

74 A Flair for Food Target’s new strategy is all about bringing “Tar-zhay” cachet to its grocery aisles.

Departments

PROGRESSIVE GROCER’S 2021 GENNEXT AWARDS

26 The Grocery Industry Is in Good Hands

More change is coming to the grocery industry, and this year’s record number of GenNext winners is ready to take on whatever comes next.

64 EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH

The New Age of Elevated Expectations

Shopper behaviors are evolving rapidly and challenging grocers to understand an expanding range of influences shaping grocery’s future.

16 NIELSEN’S SHELF STOPPERS

20 ALL’S WELLNESS

Dairy

Homemade and Healthier

18 MINTEL GLOBAL NEW PRODUCTS

22 NEW HORIZONS

Fruit

Beyond Allies

14

108 EDITORS’ PICKS FOR INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS

8 EDITOR’S NOTE

Hope for the Future 10 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR

December 2021 14 MENU TRENDS

Rediscovering Authenticity and Innovation 4

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110 AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT

Making Grocery Magic



Contents 10. 21

Volume 100 Issue 10

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455

www.ensembleiq.com GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 jschrei@ensembleiq.com

70 SUSTAINABILITY

GROCERY GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Mike Troy 813-857-6512 mtroy@ensembleiq.com

The Next Frontier

As responsible sourcing becomes more common among grocers, what’s coming up in this space for them to be aware of?

70

EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Gina Acosta 813-417-4149 gacosta@ensembleiq.com MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 347-962-9395 bgoldschmidt@ensembleiq.com SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Marian Zboraj 773-992-4405 mzboraj@ensembleiq.com

88 CPG INNOVATION

SENIOR EDITOR Lynn Petrak 708-945-0415 lpetrak@ensembleiq.com

St. Pierre Is on a Roll

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS SENIOR SALES MANAGER Bob Baker (NEW ENGLAND, MID-ATLANTIC SOUTHEAST US, EASTERN CANADA) 732-429-2080 rbaker@ensembleiq.com

New CEO David Milner talks about what’s next for brioche and the bakery category.

SENIOR SALES MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST, GA, FL) 214-226-6468 tkossack@ensembleiq.com SENIOR SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (INTERNATIONAL, SOUTHWEST, MI) 248-514-9500 trokowski@ensembleiq.com

90 SOLUTIONS

JUNIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER-GROCERY GROUP Natalie Meehan p 773-992-4410 m 619 823-4926 nmeehan@ensembleiq.com

A Helping of Ham

Flavor and convenience add new interest to this meat case staple as innovations continue in other pork-based meats.

90

CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION MANAGER Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050 marybeth@marybethmedley.com EVENTS VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS Michael Cronin mcronin@ensembleiq.com

93 SOLUTIONS

EVENTS DIRECTOR Karen Mahoney 952-467-8592 kmahoney@ensembleiq.com

Something’s Brewing Interest in sustainability, convenience and variety is creating buzz in the coffee category.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com

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MARKETING BRAND MARKETING MANAGER Rebecca Martin 773-992-4407 rmartin@ensembleiq.com AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378 SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/SINGLE-COPY PURCHASES Toll Free: 1-877-687-7321 Fax: 1-888-520-3608 contact@progressivegrocer.com

97 SOLUTIONS

Go Nuts With Berries

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION Derek Estey destey@ensembleiq.com

A recent trip to Natural Products Expo East found these two plant-based stalwarts as complementary ingredients in a variety of healthier products, as well as separately.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com ADVERTISING/PRODUCTION MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 jbatson@ensembleiq.com ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak bantkowiak@ensembleiq.com REPRINTS, PERMISSIONS AND LICENSING Wright’s Media ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com 877-652-5295

100 EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Keeping Cool Amid New Cold-Chain Challenges

New refrigeration requirements create opportunities to gain efficiency and reduce climate impacts. 104 SUPPLY CHAIN/ SANITATION

Are You Attracting More Than Customers?

Grocers are battling bugs with integrated pest management approaches and new technology tools.

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104

CORPORATE OFFICERS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Jane Volland CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER Ann Jadown EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS & CONFERENCES Ed Several EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CONTENT Joe Territo

PROGRESSIVE GROCER (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Single copy price $14, except selected special issues. Foreign single copy price $16, except selected special issues. Subscription: $125 a year; $230 for a two year supscription; Canada/Mexico $150 for a one year supscription; $270 for a two year supscription (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $170 a one year supscrption; $325 for a two year supscription (call for air mail rates). Digital Subscription: $87 one year supscription; $161 two year supscription. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to brand, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200. Copyright ©2021 EnsembleIQ All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.



EDITOR’S NOTE By Mike Troy

Hope for the Future AN INSPIRING GROUP OF LE ADERS IS RE ADY TO TACKLE SHOPPERS’ ELE VATED E XPECTATIONS. ere’s something to feel good about amid the supply chain, labor and inflation chaos confronting the grocery world. The industry’s talent pipeline is filled with next-generation leaders who are innovative, inspiring, and committed to serving shoppers and their communities. We know this to be true because Progressive Grocer just revealed its list of 2021 GenNext Award winners. It’s an impressive group of 90 individuals from the ranks of retailer, supplier and solution provider companies. These individuals under the age of 40 possess the traits and track records of accomplishment that suggest they are poised to have an even greater impact on the grocery industry. Something else to feel good about is that this group of 90 individuals only scratches the surface when it comes to the depth of talent lurking within organizations throughout the food and consumables industry. We know this to be true because the GenNext program is relatively new and growing exponentially. Although it began just a few years ago, industry engagement in GenNext has grown quickly, enabling PG to recognize 25, then 40 and now 90 individuals as “GenNexters.” These individuals demonstrate a commitment to the industry, displaying innovative thinking to overcome challenges, an ability to inspire others and a willingness to make an impact in the world beyond their work. Since this program is in its infancy, we are confident that there are a lot more GenNexters out there waiting to be recognized as industry engagement with the awards grows. That’s good, because we also know that the industry needs new types of leaders to succeed in an operating environment filled with uncertainties brought about by a rapid pace of change. They’ll have to deal with the operational basics related to achieving profitable sales growth, but they’ll also have to do so while serving shoppers with different attitudes, preferences and behaviors. We know this because PG just completed a proprietary shopper journey research study, “The New Age of Elevated Expectations.” This research looked at shoppers between the ages of 18 and 34 who are entering their prime household formation and spending years, and will become a major force in grocery. These shoppers have high expectations for food that tastes good, and is affordable and convenient. They also want to spend money with companies that they perceive treat workers well, and will stop frequenting those that they discover negative news about on social 8

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media. Many still live at home and frequently pay with cash, but also expect frictionless payment methods. They make up an interesting group with interesting views (see page 64), especially as it relates to physical stores. More than half think that stores are a great way to discover interesting new products, but other results are more troubling: Double-digit percentages of those surveyed said that shopping in a food store is something they avoid doing, will do less of in the future or is something that “old people” do. Nine percent said that shopping for food in stores is “a waste of time.” Ouch! That’s a big challenge for grocers intent on maintaining store traffic while further embracing digital methods. There are other big challenges, too, based on the research, but grocers can take comfort from the 90 innovative and inspiring GenNext Award winners in their midst who are ready to make an even bigger difference.

The industry needs new types of leaders to succeed in an operating environment filled with uncertainties brought about by a rapid pace of change. They’ll have to deal with the operational basics related to achieving profitable sales growth, but they’ll also have to do so while serving shoppers with different attitudes, preferences and behaviors.

Mike Troy Editorial Director, Grocery Group mtroy@ensembleIQ.com



IN-STORE EVENTS

Calendar

12.21

Buckwheat Month National Eggnog Month National Fruitcake Month National Pear Month

National Stress-Free Family Holiday Month Quince and Watermelon Month Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month

S M T W T F S

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National Christmas Lights Day

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3

4

National Mutt Day. Encourage customers and associates alike to adopt from their local animal shelters.

National Green Bean Casserole Day. Who hasn’t encountered some variation on this classic at family get-togethers over the years?

Santa’s List Day. Direct your shoppers to the departments where they can pick up the perfect stocking stuffers.

Rosa Parks Day

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6

7

8

9

Christmas Card Day. Urge shoppers to buy and send theirs early.

10

Human Rights Day. Run a donation program to support an organization dedicated to advancing this worthy cause.

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25

27

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Krampus Night. This scary-funny occasion needs higher visibility in the United States.

Poinsettia Day. Show these Yuletide plants off to their best advantage in an eye-catching display.

National Hard Candy Day National Oatmeal Muffin Day

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National ThankYou Note Day. Might as well get started.

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National Microwave Oven Day. Where would we be without them?

National Cocoa Day. Whether you take yours with tiny marshmallows or not, this hot beverage hits the spot on a wintry day.

Go Caroling Day. Organize a group of silver-voiced associates to spread cheer in the aisles.

National Fruitcake Day. Offer any still in stock at half price.

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National Illinois Day. Highlight all of the great products that you offer from the Land of Lincoln.

National Alabama Day. Turn the spotlight on foods and beverages from the Yellowhammer State.

National Maine Day. This is the time to celebrate all things from the Pine Tree State.

Call a Friend Day. This is the perfect opportunity to check in with those you may have lost touch with.

National Christmas Tree Day. If your store sells real or fake trees, make sure you have them on prominent display, as well as decorations.

National Lemon Cupcake Day

National Cookie Exchange Day. Get shoppers to swap their fave recipes, in person or virtually.

Still Need to Do Day. Go over the list of stuff you haven’t completed yet this year, and then get cracking.

Boston Tea Party Day. Raise a mug to American independence while enjoying a seasonal variant of Britain’s favorite beverage.

National Regifting Day. Provide some helpful suggestions on how customers can do this discreetly, and let them post their own ideas online.

National Bicarbonate of Soda Day. For many, this observance has lasted all week.

National Maple Syrup Day

Christmas Eve. Ensure that you’re stocked up on all of those last-minute items that shoppers will inevitably rush in for.

As it’s both National Champagne Day and New Year’s Eve, be sure to raise a toast to your hardworking associates!

National App Day. Remind your customers of all of the great features on your mobile offering.

National Twin Day. Those who bring their former womb-mate shopping should get a special discount.

Christmas



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HOOKS | SHELF MERCHANDISING | LABELING WWW.TRIONONLINE.COM/ART | 800-444-4665 ©2015 Trion Industries, Inc.


MENU TRENDS

Research & Analysis

Rediscovering Authenticity and Innovation Mexican cuisine blends bold, complex flavor profiles in many quintessential dishes. According to Datassential’s Flavor database, 82% of consumers like or love Mexican food, making it one of the most loved cuisines. Many of its well-known handhelds, such as tacos and burritos, have been reimagined by chefs around the world, who added ingredients from their own cuisines, as in the case of Korean-style tacos. Trending flavors and dishes from Mexico, including pozole, chamoyadas and horchata, have become more prevalent on American menus. Today, we showcase some of the trends that have continued to grow amid COVID-19. Aguas Frescas MAC stage: Inception — International markets, global independents and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation, and presentation. This classic Mexican street beverage’s name translates to “fresh water,” and the inclusion of fruit and flowers adds a seasonal twist. The nonalcoholic beverage comes in such classic flavors as horchata, agua de Jamaica (hibiscus tea), tamarindo and tepache de piña (fermented pineapple), but many operators have introduced foreign flavors and ingredients like matcha into the mix. Sweeteners can vary from cane sugar, piloncillo (raw cane sugar), or alternative sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit for a healthy-halo effect. On 2.5% of U.S. restaurant menus

Birria MAC stage: Adoption — Global-food aisles at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual. Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients. This dish from Jalisco exploded on TikTok during quarantine and continues to gain traction as operators put their own spin on a classic. In Mexico, birria is traditionally served as a hangover cure; today, it’s found mostly at independent operators and food trucks. Making the perfect birria involves marinating goat or mutton overnight, and slow-cooking it for four hours until it’s tender. The dish features in online vidoes of people submerging birria tacos in cups of consommé or making over-the-top quesadillas with the slow-braised meat.

Up 22% over the past four years On <1% of U.S. restaurant menus 32% of consumers know it /19% have tried it /14% love or like it Menu Example Ramis Café On The World Lavender Refresco Our take on the Mexican agua fresca, refrescos are light and bubbly nonalcoholic beverages, made of fresh fruits, juiced daily, with herbal or spice elements. Served over ice, with club soda.

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Up 66% over the past four years 19% of consumers know it /11% have tried it/8% love or like it Menu Example Agave & Rye Birria Taco Slow-braised beef with guajillo chilies, Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, onion, dipping consommé.

Street Taco MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferationstage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.) There’s no lettuce, tomato or cheese on these tacos; instead, it’s traditional to serve a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro and salsa. Protein options include barbacoa, carnitas, al pastor and carne asada. Then innovative Korean tacos popped up on the Los Angeles food truck scene. From there, chefs began to create their own spins on the street taco.

Burrito MAC stage: Ubiquity — Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. Though often diluted by this point, their Inception-stage roots are still recognizable. Burritos range from the traditional, with meat, vegetables and salsa; to Tex-Mex, with rice and beans; to breakfast versions. Operators have begun to blend this platform with early-stage trends like poké. The flour tortilla is replaced with a seaweed wrap, and then filled with sushi-grade rice and fish; vegetables; masago; and sauces like aioli, sweet chili or sriracha.

On 2.6% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 32% over the past four years 77% of consumers know it/56% have tried it/51% love or like it Menu Example Kerbey Lane Cafe Texas Street Tacos Grilled all-natural wagyu steak, caramelized onion and tomato wrapped in warm corn tortillas and topped with queso fresco and cilantro. Served with refried black beans, guacamole salad and a side of chipotle salsa. Gluten-free.

On 18.1% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 9% over the past four years 96% of consumers know it/87% have tried it/73% love or like it Menu Example Casa Olé Mexican Restaurant Wet Burrito A massive burrito filled with ground beef, rice, bean, enchilada sauce, and chili con carne, topped with more enchilada sauce, shredded cheese, chili con carne, charro beans, chile con queso, and jalapeños. Served with pico de gallo on the side.



FRONT END

Shelf Stoppers

Dairy

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Latest 52 Wks W/E 7/24/21

Dairy

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 7/25/20

$78,702,291,256

$76,248,906,661

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 7/27/19

$69,557,055,953

Top Dairy Categories by Dollar Sales Cheese

Milk Products

Beverages

Yogurt

Eggs

$20,000,000,000

How much is the average American household spending per trip on various dairy products versus the year-ago period?

15,000,000,000

$9.86

10,000,000,000

on all dairy items, up 6.7% compared with a year ago 5,000,000,000

0

Latest 52 Wks W/E 7/24/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 7/25/20

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 7/27/19

Source: Nielsen, Total U.S. (All outlets combined) – includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries (DeCA) for the 52 weeks ending July 24, 2021

Over the past year, the dairy department has continued to be a strong performer, with dollar sales increasing 3.2%, which translates to an additional $2.2 billion in retail sales. However, there has been some shift in the dairy case, with cheese, beverages and yogurt leading the increases. As COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and consumers began emerging from their homes, we saw the growth of milk and eggs soften to 0.3% and drop 2.0%, respectively. For 2021, beverages continue to outperform other dairy segments, fueled by innovation and shifts in consumer preferences. As expected, household consumption of dairy products skews to larger households with higher incomes, spending well above their market importance. With limited retail space comes the need to diversify the dairy case to meet evolving consumer preferences and trends.”

$5.34

on butter, down 0.9% compared with a year ago

$2.99

on chicken eggs, up 5.6% compared with a year ago

—Carman Allison, VP, Consumer Intelligence, NielsenIQ

Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on Greek yogurt?

$3.71

on cows’ milk, up 7.3% compared with a year ago Millennials

Gen Xers

Boomers

The Greatest Generation

$5.48

$5.59

$5.45

$5.30

Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending July 3, 2021

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Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending July 3, 2021



MINTEL CATEGORY INSIGHTS

Global New Products Database

Fruit What Consumers Want, and Why

Market Overview

Boosted by the pandemic, sales of fruit surpassed $48 billion in 2020, but have begun to return to their pre-COVID trajectory in 2021. The fruit category should see steady, if slight, growth through 2026, amid consumer interest in healthier eating and overall wellness.

Key Issues

Fruit brands’ ethical and sustainable practices will resonate strongly with young adults, particularly options that help address consumer concerns about fruit that goes to waste. Only 38% of respondents age 45-plus are interested in fruit grown using regenerative farming practices.

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Of consumers ages 18-44 and 45-plus say that they struggle to fit enough fruit into their diet.

Online ordering — and reordering — of groceries surged during the pandemic, and, while consumers have returned to the physical stores, they haven’t abandoned their online grocery behavior, with four in 10 produce buyers purchasing at least a portion of their produce online. The opportunity spans fruit segments, pointing to the potential for brands and retailers to establish a more direct relationship with their consumers, making that online produce purchase even more personal through order histories, easing the reorder process, and potentially even broadening usage with cooking/baking tutorials and recipes for nutritious fruit-based snacks, desserts and more.



ALL’S WELLNESS By Diane Quagliani

Homemade and Healthier

Beyond nutrition, team up with your dietitians on several other factors that can help lead to successful programs:

SUPERMARKE TS CAN GE T CUSTOMERS COOKING. omemade meals carry a cachet of being healthy and nutritious — a notion borne out by several research studies, including two published in the Public Health Nutrition journal. In the first study, researchers used national survey data to examine the relationship between cooking frequency and diet quality among U.S. adults. They found that in households where someone cooked dinner frequently — six to seven times per week — adults consumed, on average, fewer calories, and less fat and sugar per day, compared with households where someone cooked dinner just once per week or not at all. In the second study, the researchers compared cooking frequency and Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores among U.S. adults. The HEI measures diet quality — the higher the score, the better. Overall, HEI scores were higher among adults in households where someone cooked dinner at least seven times per week versus those in households where dinner was cooked zero to two times per week. While research supports the nutritional benefits of cooking at home, The supermarket is the there’s still room for improvement, ideal venue to equip and many shoppers want specific shoppers with healthy guidance for bettering their own cooking skills through homemade meals.

Healthy Cooking Considerations

multiple channels, including in-store and virtual classes and demos, “cook-alongs” with accompanying recipes and tips, and online recipes and videos.

The supermarket is the ideal venue to equip shoppers with healthy cooking skills through multiple channels, including in-store and virtual classes and demos, “cook-alongs” with accompanying recipes and tips, and online recipes and videos. When it comes to the nutritional value of meals and recipes, retail dietitians are experts at addressing trouble spots in the American diet, such as shortfalls on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, and not consuming enough calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamin D, and too much added sugar, saturated fat and sodium.

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Tackle the time crunch. Many shoppers have no dinner plan even as mealtime looms. Feature solutions such as 30-minuteor-less recipes, ideas for quick assembly of prepared components, and prep-ahead and freezer-ready meals. Include options for breakfast, lunch and snacks, too. Address affordability. For budget-conscious shoppers, offer thrifty ideas based on the week’s specials, and substitutions for more costly ingredients. Help build foundational skills. Offer programs and recipes covering a range of knowledge and skill levels. A surprising number of shoppers might want fundamentals like how to stock the pantry for quick meals, knife skills and basic cooking terms. Customize to customer demographics. For example, include smaller-yield recipes for one- or two-person households, and respectful adaptations of cultural recipes and cooking techniques. Capitalize on trends such as plant-based eating and electric pressure cooker and air fryer meals. Include programs for those with special health concerns such as diabetes, heart health, gluten intolerance and food allergies. Increase shopper engagement. Solicit shoppers’ best healthy recipes to feature on your website or social media channels. Offer incentives for attending classes and participating in promotions, such as coupons, a sample bag or a small cooking gadget, or raffle off bigger prizes such as gift cards, a piece of cookware or a small appliance.

Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, specializes in nutrition communications for consumer and health professional audiences. She has assisted national retailers and CPGs with nutrition strategy, web content development, trade show exhibiting, and the creation and implementation of shelf tag programs.



NEW HORIZONS By Karen Jones

Beyond Allies LE ARN HOW COMPANIES CAN BUILD A NE T WORK OF SUPPORT. ne of the most common things we hear at NEW, particularly from men, is that they just don’t know where to begin supporting women – or how to go about it in ways that really make a tangible difference. There’s always more to learn about allyship, and the conversation is changing all the time. What we do know is how important allies are to advancing women’s equity. Allies can become sponsors and mentors, and create changes in policy and culture that have vast ripple effects on the lives of working women. We developed our own allyship program, Beyond Allies, to meet this key need. “Research reveals that men often struggle to recognize gender dis-

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crimination and harassment in real time,” notes Beyond Allies facilitator Tom Foley. “While 77% of men report doing ‘everything they can’ to support gender equality at work, only 41% of women agree. … Men often remain on the sidelines rather than being true advocates and allies. Situational awareness is key, and demands training and preparedness.”

Our Pilot

NEW piloted Beyond Allies in 2020 and early 2021 with 276 men and women of all seniority levels and across many organizations. To say it “hit the spot” for participants would be an understatement. One VP-level participant told us that it “gave [them] as a veteran leader the inspiration to coach and develop the next generation.” An HR partner said that “the content and small-group discussions were valuable in gaining insight into how I can effectively


Allies can become sponsors and mentors, and create changes in policy and culture that have vast ripple effects on the lives of working women. be an ally. … [I]t also gave me great perspective on how my male colleagues could be thinking about allyship and how I can support them.” Participants consistently mentioned how immediately actionable the program content was, that they could take what they learned into the workplace and start making tangible change immediately. One manager observed that, immediately following the program, it “already has helped give me the language for a pay equity issue and [I am] looking forward to helping others in the future.”

POS SYSTEMS

The Key to Allyship

Creating strong allies takes more than a single conversation. Our programming has been built to support men and women who want to do what they can at every step of their journey to taking real action. To build a network of strong allies at your organization, start with education, but make sure that education is backed up with real conversations and ongoing learning. One diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and belonging session won’t be enough to create momentum – it takes continuous pushing and learning, and a lifetime of listening. For more information about NEW’s Beyond Allies program, keep an eye on newonline.org/ beyondallies for news on our next cohort, and follow us on social media @newnational.

Karen Jones is head of learning, development and DEI for the Network of Executive Women. She has worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including American Express, Sara Lee Corp., U.S. Cellular and Ulta Beauty.

BRINGING BEST IN CLASS PRODUCTS & SERVICES TO UNFI RETAILERS • Single & Multi-store Solutions • 24/7 Support

SELF CHECKOUT

• Nationwide Coverage Localized Support LOSS PREVENTION

For more information contact your UNFI Retail Technology Consultant. PSsales@unfi.com | go.unfi.com/IA/RetailDataSystems PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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CELEBRATING the BEST of

2021

Your customers thank you for your commitment to offering only the very best beef. And so do we. Congratulations!


Retailer of the Year

Top Sales Volume Retail Chain

Grocery Marketers of the Year

Large Chain

Small Chain

Independent

Specialty Store

Brand Extension

Value-added Products

Rookie of the Year

Rising Star: Large Chain

Rising Star: Small Chain

Top Sales Volume Distributor

Top Sales Volume Cooperative

Distributor Marketer of the Year


FEATURE

2021

Awards

T The Grocery Industry Is in Good Hands More change is coming to the grocery industry, and this year’s record number of GenNext winners is ready to take on whatever comes next. By PG Staff

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alent has always mattered in retail, but today it matters more than ever and in more ways than ever. Credit the blistering pace of change that has accelerated throughout the world of grocery to the point where words such as “innovation,” “disruption” and “transformation” are now a familiar part of the industry’s vocabulary. This dynamic environment requires that companies employ talented leaders with diverse skill sets to manage familiar as well as a growing number of new types of challenges. This reality was evidenced by the unprecedented number of submissions that Progressive Grocer received for our annual GenNext Awards program. The large number of nominees is testament to the fact that many individuals distinguished themselves during a year in which the food and consumables industry dealt with ongoing pandemic challenges. To determine this year’s GenNext recipients, we reached out with a simple ask of the industry: “Do you know an innovator, disruptor or difference-maker having an impact on their organization, the industry and colleagues, someone who possesses that 'it’ factor that’s hard to describe but that sets them apart as a next-generation industry leader?” The answer was an enthusiastic “yes” from all quarters, with retailers, suppliers and solution providers sharing inspiring stories that made so many individuals worthy of the GenNext distinction. We ended up recognizing 90 of the industry’s best and brightest under the age of 40 who possess a combination of the following traits: A high level of commitment to a career in the food

retailing industry and the communities their companies serve. Innovative thinking and an ability to overcome

challenges and capitalize on opportunities to serve shoppers more effectively. An ability to inspire others through actions,

accomplishments, leadership and vision. A willingness to make an impact on the world beyond

work through various types of community involvement. The goal was to identify individuals capable of moving their companies, communities and the industry forward in a future of further change and emerging opportunities. That’s why we wanted to understand accomplishments and impact, and asked for examples in which a nominee demonstrated leadership, whether through innovation, interactions with others or by making difficult choices. Further, to gain a sense of the individual’s ability to inspire others, we asked what three words come to mind when thinking about a nominee’s leadership style, defining characteristics and accomplishments. The words that came to mind for us were “optimistic,” “hopeful” and “encouraging.” Those are all variations on a theme of optimism, but it’s easy to feel good about where grocery is headed after reviewing this year’s GenNext Award winners and imagining their future accomplishments. Check out the class of 2021, and see whether you agree.



FEATURE

2021

Awards

Matt Schwartz

Jordan Clark

CEO and Co-Founder, Afresh Technologies

Senior Sourcing Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Age: 32

Age: 37

A

T

Aini Tjan

Lindsay Belfatto

t the ripe old age of 32, Schwartz has brought a fresh dynamic to the produce sector. His company, Afresh Technologies, is paving the way for a better future through a simultaneous push for accessible fresh produce and a substantial reduction in food waste. After shadowing fresh department managers around the country, Schwartz and his co-founders used artificial intelligence to create the first fresh operating system that optimizes the quantity of fresh food delivered to grocery stores. Afresh recently added several new grocery partners, doubled its own employee head count and secured $25 million in Series A funding. Schwartz is no stranger to innovation in the food sector: Before Afresh, he launched the snack food company Statfood and garnered additional experience at The Production Board and clean-label cookie and cracker maker Simple Mills.

Senior Sourcing Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Age: 37

T

jan’s leadership was evident throughout the pandemic as she managed a portfolio of nonfood products significantly affected by supply chain challenges and inflationary pressures. She collaborated with core suppliers to develop a demand plan that could meet forecasted sales demand and align with challenging lead times. Tjan also took the lead on identifying supply risks in each category and, where appropriate, onboarding additional suppliers. One particularly challenging area was pet care, where Tjan took the lead for the company’s Own Brands portfolio to work with suppliers to optimize the total tonnage that could be received while demand exceeded supply. She made tough decisions to deprioritize less efficient SKUs to maximize the total tonnage available in each segment. As a result, Albertsons was able to increase available capacity by more than 25% to ensure the availability of top-selling SKUs.

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he attributes of humility, insightfulness and tenacity have served Clark well in his role at Albertsons. Since August 2017, he’s led an overhaul of Albertsons’ approach to sourcing and risk management in the dairy space. Clark performs the day-to-day functions of sourcing raw conventional and organic milk products for Albertsons’ seven fluid-dairy and two ice cream plants, and is also responsible for the sourcing of fluid milk. In addition, he created supply chain solutions for many Albertsons Own Brands dairy products. Clark is credited with helping Albertsons save millions of dollars, due to cost efficiency improvements, while ensuring that the retailer’s stores ran at high service levels during the pandemic. Clark also implemented new processes to pay dairy farmers directly.

VP of Sales, Ark Foods

Age: 36

T

here’s sales growth, and then there’s cultivating a category that relies on the growth of actual crops. At Ark Foods, Belfatto has used her innate interest in, and knowledge of, fresh produce to bring unique, nutritious vegetables to stores around the country. She was instrumental in expanding the Clean Label Eats line to include more items with veggie-forward twists on classic dishes, and has inspired her team to continually explore new SKUs. Her own career has taken root at Ark Foods, where she was promoted to VP of sales in 2020 after joining the company in 2017. A new mom, Belfatto is passionate about fostering success through mentorship and has given back as a leader in the company’s efforts to donate surplus vegetables to community members in need.


celebrating forward thinkers.

Meijer congratulates this year's GenNext honorees, including our own. Travis Bernath ¥ Michelle Hall ¥ Brian Pugh ¥ Marlys Roberts ¥ Justin Sessink ¥ Erin Walton


FEATURE

2021

Awards

Sarah Masters

Leigh Hamp

HR and Communications Specialist, Associated Grocers of New England

VP, Product, Banza

Age: 25

T

A

s a testament to her rising-star status, Masters has been promoted three times in five years. She is adept at both bringing talent into, and shining the spotlight on, Associated Grocers of New England, leading recruitment efforts and serving as the voice of the organization. Masters recently created a new training program for the sales team and led a solar panel project that made Associated Grocers of New England home to the largest rooftop solar panel in New Hampshire. As a result of Masters’ communications efforts, the company was named a Business of the Year in June 2021. The intern-turned-specialist is an eager and contributing member of several internal groups, including the green, publications, activities, volunteer and food show organizations, as well as the retailer-owned food distributor and associate planning committees.

alk about an impressive pipeline: since 2018, Hamp has spearheaded the launch of two new product lines and 17 unique SKUs, and expanded the product team from one to seven members. Among the introductions under her watch was the first-ever chickpea-based pizza crust in the United States. While identifying and executing innovative products made from chickpeas, this young leader also guided key sensory improvements in existing pasta products. According to her nominator, her belief in listening to customers has proved pivotal, and is evident in such rollouts as a customer-inspired clean-label, plant-based mac and cheese that has become a top-selling item at Whole Foods Market. Hamp is also described as tenacious, thoughtful and optimistic, traits that have catapulted this CPG company into a startup success story.

Julia Cohen

Ross Shepard

Head of Commercial Product and Innovation, Bowery Farming

Head of Field Sales, Bowery Farming

Age: 33

C

ohen is always thinking ahead. With an eye on trends and a keen appreciation for consumer, farmer and retailer interests, she brought to market innovative products for vertical farming company Bowery Farming, including a free-standing branded display of boxed basil, and a Farmer’s Selection line of limited-edition, hard-to-find rotating greens in varieties like Mustard Frills and Green Sorrel. Heeding recent consumer clamor for texture and crispy foods, Cohen helped launch the Crispy Leaf product for Bowery. Her intuition and strategic prowess is matched by her passion for sustainability and a better local food system. A true collaborator, Cohen teamed with scientists to create a sensory lexicon to help the company better understand and describe its product attributes of flavor, aroma, texture and color.

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Age: 31

progressivegrocer.com

Age: 37

S

hepard brings a fresh perspective to produce — literally and figuratively. A big believer in visual impact, he strives to bring a center store mentality to produce departments by analyzing shopper traffic flow and devising new horizontal merchandising for Bowery Farming’s products, instead of traditional vertical displays; those new displays were piloted at some Walmart locations. Shepard also has a clear vision for the future of vertically farmed produce, describing the benefits to retailers and helping shape Bowery’s sales team infrastructure. He’s described by colleagues as a problem solver who is grounded and collaborative, as he expanded Bowery’s presence to more than 850 stores and pursues small but impactful improvements like labels that hold up better under retail lighting. Beyond Bowery, he supports organizations that focus on hunger and equality.


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ROI Standards: Shop! 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: ROI Standards:

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STORE Redesign REDESIGN

Examining Motivators, Metrics and Meaning Behind Store Redesign Projects

Examining Motivators, Metrics & Meaning Behind Store Redesign Projects

SPONSORED BY


Foreword A special thank you to our sponsors Specialty Lighting, Stylmark, Canada’s Best Store Fixtures Inc. and Trion for their support and also the Research Council and the ROI Standards Task Force for their work in developing this white paper. In today’s retail climate, ROI data is no longer a “nice to have.” Retailers are counting on their suppliers to provide the information they need to demon­ strate ROI when they implement changes in store design–whether it’s improved signage, upgraded fixtures, a new mannequin line, or a complete redesign.

A SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR STORE REDESIGN ROI STANDARDS TASK FORCE MEMBERS Madeline Baumgartner Shop! Jane Greenthal, Chair Gensler Teri Mascotti Stylmark Paul Pinkus Sharing Wisdom Michael Decker Medallion Retail Ted Flinn Tag Worldwide

In our continual effort to drive an industry dialog on ROI, Shop!, the trade associ­ ation focused on enhancing retail environments and experiences, is pioneering the development of industry standards for Store Redesign ROI. In 2014 Shop! worked with EWI Worldwide to gain an understanding of this topic. The EWI team surveyed retailers with physical remodels regarding their motivations, goals, and expectations of a store redesign. The information was shared in a 2015 EWI White Paper that was inserted in Retail Environments magazine. Building off of those findings, Shop! has endeavored to further understand the current ROI measurement habits of retailers, store designers, and manu­ facturers. Shop! conducted a survey for the first phase of the research with key industry players in retail, store design, and fixture manufacturing. The 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign white paper offers actionable insights, case studies, and best practices based on the findings of our recent studies. I hope the takeaways in the following pages will help you justify your investments to create and execute successful store redesign projects that ultimately enhance the retail experience for shoppers. This is the first of a series of ROI research from Shop! in 2017. Later in the year, Shop! will release results on Understanding the Effect of the Retail Workers’ Service on the Customer Experience and How it Ties Back to Return on Design. For questions or more information about the report, please visit the Shop! website at shopassociation.org, email us at info@shopassociation.org, or call Madeline Baumgartner, Shop! Director of Education & Research at 312­863­2917. Thank you!

Steven Weiss, CEO, Shop!

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2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


Photo: iStock.com/fiphoto Photo: iStock.com/fiphoto

According According to to Retail RetailNext, Next,94% 94%of ofretail retailsales salesare arestill stilloccurring occurring at brick-and-mortar brick-and-mortarstores, stores,yet yetfoot foottraffic trafficisisdeclining decliningat atan anannual annualrate rate of 15% 15% and andhalf halfof ofthe thecustomers customersare areshowrooming. showrooming.

In order to combat combat the the alarming alarmingdecline declinein inthe thenumber numberof of store visits, retailers retailers need need to to motivate motivateconsumers consumersto toget get out of their chairs and and go go to to the thestore. store.Retailers Retailersneed needto to focus on giving shoppers shoppers what what they theycannot cannotget getat athome, home, in an environment environment that that entices entices them themto tomake makethe thejourney. journey.

By Byunderstanding understandingthese thesekey keyfactors factors(both (bothcurrent currentand and emerging), emerging),Shop! Shop!will willwork worktowards towardsthe thecreation creationofofROI ROI standards for store redesigns. Shop! is working collabora­ standards for store redesigns. Shop! is working collabora­ tively tivelywith withkey keyindustry industryplayers playersfrom fromthe theretailing, retailing,branding branding and store design industries to create these standards. and store design industries to create these standards.

Making Making those those changes changes require require resources resourcesand andresources resources require ROI justification, yet there are no definitive require ROI justification, yet there are no definitiveindustry industry standards for measuring the results of the investment. standards for measuring the results of the investment. Measurements Measurements that that are are available availableare areoften oftenfraught fraughtwith with caveats, varying by sector and oftentimes neglecting caveats, varying by sector and oftentimes neglecting intangible, intangible, but but significant, significant, costs costsor orbenefits. benefits.

In In2014, 2014,Shop! Shop!worked workedwith withEWI EWItotogain gainaabase baseunder­ under­ standing of the ROI on retail design. The research standing of the ROI on retail design. The researchwas was concentrated on stores with physical remodels affecting concentrated on stores with physical remodels affecting aavariety varietyof ofshopper shopperinfluencing influencingfactors. factors.The TheEWI EWIteam team cross­ referenced the data from the various projects cross­referenced the data from the various projectsand and gathered gathereddata datathrough throughaasurvey surveyofofcurrent currentretailers. retailers.The The surveys surveysfocused focusedon onunderstanding understandingthe theretailers’ retailers’motiva­ motiva­ tions, goals, and expectations of a store redesign, tions, goals, and expectations of a store redesign,asaswell well as, identifying the various scopes of each project. as, identifying the various scopes of each project.

At At the the same same time, time, projects projects must mustinclude includecommitment commitmentto to credible, attainable ROI, a goal that is often credible, attainable ROI, a goal that is oftenaabattle battlewith with uncertainty. uncertainty. This This is is driving driving discussions discussionsbetween betweenretailers retailers and their vendors. Discussions revolve not and their vendors. Discussions revolve notonly onlyaround around identifying identifying the the experience experience goals goalsand andexecution executionplan, plan, but also around the results the retailer but also around the results the retailercan canexpect expectto to gain from the investment. gain from the investment. To To aid aid in in the the calculation calculation of of ROI, ROI, Shop! Shop!seeks seeksto tounderstand understand key ROI variables, considerations and methodologies key ROI variables, considerations and methodologiesfor for the the industry. industry.

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign

Building Buildingoff offthe thefindings findingsfrom fromthe theEWI EWIPaper Paperpublished publishedinin 2015, 2015,Shop! Shop!endeavored endeavoredtotofurther furtherunderstand understandthe thecurrent current ROI measurement habits in the retail industry. Last ROI measurement habits in the retail industry. Lastfall, fall, Shop! conducted a survey with key players in retail, store Shop! conducted a survey with key players in retail, store design, design,and andfixture fixturemanufacturing. manufacturing.

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The 2016 survey was conducted to understand: • goals & metrics used to measure ROI • target levels for ROI • frequency for calculating ROI • criteria for determining if store redesign was a success • criteria for determining/evaluating the role of any specific design element(s) in the success (or failure) of the store redesign Key findings from the survey include: Definition of “store redesign” was wide ranging. There is an old truism: ask three people a question and you will receive three different interpretations of the question. Shop! found this to be true when we asked retailers, designers and store fixture manufacturers to define “store redesign.” Respondents used words like remodel, redesign, refresh, retrofit, reconfigure and renovation. The variety of terms reflected the range of design scope, from minor changes to completely new stores. Elements of redesign included everything from interiors and architecture, fix­ tures and flooring, graphics and branding, and everything in between. Rebranding and enhanced customer experi­ ence were also mentioned in describing a “redesign”. Redesign lifespan depends on whom you ask. In terms of how long a store redesign should last, the three respon­ dent groups again had different responses: manufacturers thought 3­4 years; the majority of designers believed 5­6 years, while retailers’ responses were spread throughout the ranges, depending on their definition of redesign. However, 90% of retailers did not expect a store rede­ sign to last more than 6 years before an update would be required. Not surprisingly, the smaller the remodel, the lower the expected ROI, and the lower the expected lifespan of the remodel. Conversely, the larger the remodel, the larger the expected ROI and lifespan. Perceptions of retailer motivation differs. Shop! research also found designers and manufacturers had different per­ ceptions of what motivates retailers to embark on a store redesign. Understanding these during the planning phases of the project will help suppliers to better serve the retailer.

MOTIVATING FACTORS Better leverage physical footprint to increase sales across all channels

34% 23% 18%

Cohesively align with a redefined/ reinvented brand

11% 29% 12%

Create a stronger connection with current consumer base

23% 16% 12%

Retailers

Designers

Manufacturers

Specifically, retailers indicated that the single biggest motivator for a store redesign was to better leverage their physical footprint to increase sales across all channels. Retailers also stated creating a stronger connection with current consumer base as a key motivator. Manufacturers aligned with retailers on the goal to leverage their physical footprint, but also felt they wanted to be seen as an innovator in their market. Designers, for their part, believed the redesign was done primarily to cohesively align with a redefined/reinvented brand and to a lesser extent, better leverage physical footprint to increase sales across all channels. This may be indicative of the designers’ scope of work, specific to more store design­oriented goals, however, given retailer moti­ vations, it would behoove designers to assess the overall impact of their designs on sales lift across all channels.

KEY LEARNING: Designers and manufacturers need to better understand retailer motivations for a store redesign to help meet their core objectives.

4

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


Future of Bricks and Mortar

To help ensure continued growth, the industry must innovate around three themes: Experience, Convenience, and Personalization. Store design, fixtures and visuals must support experiential and interactive environments. Investments in digital technology must support market demands for convenience. And custom­designed displays should be leveraged to create a unique, personalized value for shoppers. In the 2016 Industry Size and Composition Study, Shop! identified five retail trends that are transforming the retail landscape.

Rise of omnichannel retailing. Stores are now playing the role of showroom and distribution center, rather than buying center. In many cases, there are sepa­ rate areas for click and pick­up Ph i oto ha : iStock om/bugp with stores are being redesigned .c to convey this multiplatform message. Innovative retailers are creating hybrid stores where the physical and on­line merge seamlessly, and cater to shoppers with ultimate convenience and ease of access.

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign

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In-store retailing becoming more interactive and experiential. Retailers are seeking fixtures and displays that are customized to meet new interactive and experiential retailing strategies. Designs must aid in the creation of Ph er oto esh : iSto ck.com/skyn the store itself as a brand, as well as a place for customers to experience brands. Refreshing/remodeling/ redesigning of stores is happening faster. Successful retailers will have the ability to change rapidly. Stores are refreshing, remodeling, and ho n to sI : iS ge redesigning themselves much toc Ima k.com / Weekend faster than they were able to do even a few years ago. There is a higher demand for fast turnkey solutions, along with an increased pressure on suppliers to remain aware of and anticipate trends. P

Shrinking selling space. Stores are getting smaller, and the number of outlets is shrinking, even as U.S. retail value sales are growing. Consumers are cutting back on the number of trips and doing Ph sr more big­box, one­stop shopping oto : iStock.com/andre trips and shopping online. As such, store fixtures need to maximize space utilization and do more with less. Portable, movable and/or adjustable fixtures will be increasingly important.

Online retailers opening physical stores. A growing number of suc­ cessful online retailers are open­ ing physical locations to create a more in­depth experience for their customers. Fixtures can help bridge the gap between the online and physical realms by carrying themes and colors from online to in­store.

c.

According to Shop! Research, retailers almost unanimously agreed that the in­store customer experience is very or extremely important to them. Retailers also see brick­and­ mortar stores as extremely important to their business and foresee its importance continuing, if not growing, for the next five to ten years.

KEY LEARNING: Larger industry trends indicate that stores must deliver more experiential environments that seamlessly merge the physical and digital. Consequently, store design needs to keep up with rapidly changing technologies and shopper expectations to be successful.

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Lighting for a Store Redesign

BY SPECIALTY LIGHTING

Retail Lighting Historically, retailers have been limited to the types of lighting and lighting capabilities they can use in a store redesign project. Until recently, light fixtures had to be designed around traditional light sources (e.g., incandes­ cent, halogen and fluorescent lamps). This limited not only the style of the lighting fixtures, but also the function of the lighting. The past five years has brought about numerous changes in the lighting industry. In an industry once dominated by incandescent and fluorescent lighting, LED (light­emitting diode) has quickly emerged as the preferred lighting source of many lighting designers. LEDs provide numerous benefits to the designers includ­ ing the flexibility to change lighting design without being held to traditional light sources. This allows designers to more easily create different moods within the store. LEDs also enable designers to create a more inviting shopping experience by not only having the capability to enhance products, but also product colors and textures.

Project Management The key to a successful lighting project is to have the project specifics identified at the start of the project. Most designers understand lighting needs to be changed in the redesign, but they do not necessarily know what specific lighting fixtures are needed. Lighting suppliers can assist

6

with these decisions by understanding the environmental needs of the light, the mood the retailer is trying to create, what products and store fixtures need to be illuminated, and how flexible the lighting has to be. Does the retailer need the capability of adjusting the color temperature of the light or the light levels to enhance a product or change a mood within the store? This is especially important for retailers who routinely change the content and location of their product displays.

Success Metrics ROI on lighting products is calculated in many different ways. Cost for the product and installation is usually included, as is life of the fixture and light source, and product maintenance. Energy savings associated with the use of new light fixtures is another key metric. Retailers can measure ROI on replacement lighting projects in terms of energy savings, often measured as wattage savings per square foot and/or wattage savings per store. Customer Satisfaction with the shopping experience is another key metric. Traditional light sources (namely incandescent and halogen) not only create added ambient heat within the environment, but can be harsh on the eyes without proper optics and reflectors LED fixtures, when designed correctly, generate very little ambient heat. This not only makes for better shopping experience, but helps to lower the cost associated with operating the heating & air system. Customer research can provide additional insight into the effectiveness of the overall environment. 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


Store Redesign Internal Stakeholders

Photo: iStock.com/NicoElNino

When working with a retail partner, knowing who is ultimately responsible for the store redesign is critical. Shop! found that for most retailers, the Store Design team usually had ultimate responsibility for redesigns. However, other responsi­ ble departments included; Marketing, Operations, Visual Merchandising and Construction.

Retailers are investing more into unique designs and tech­ nology in order to create an interesting, interactive, and memorable experience for customers. At the same time, Allocating budget to hybrid stores and online platform online retailers are starting to open brick­and­mortar stores development affects the budget allocated to traditional to augment the online experience. Their stores are not in­store marketing and store fixtures/visual merchan­ necessarily a place to buy the product, but to dising. Store designs must support new have physical interactions, including cus­ technology and new business models. tomer service and product trial before Brands are creating their own stores, Marketing deciding to purchase it. This trend is and traditional businesses are beneficial for in­store marketing looking to reinvent themselves, Merchanand store fixtures/visual mer­ which is leading to more store Operations dising chandising suppliers. renovations.

STORE

Retailers are moving away Industry experts believe DESIGN from “cookie cutter designs“ retailers are in the midst of by integrating technology and a “full­scale transformation” Store Visual Planning Mdse. inter action with technology as retailers become more in stores, such as using tablets comfortable with data and are Confor POS screens, and replacing merging the data with creative struction static messaging with touchscreen and personalization initiatives. engagement. As mobile usage continues Retailers are trying to refresh, remodel, to grow, retailers are seeking ways to capture and reinvigorate their stores. But, they are the attention of people on mobile devices. Retailers spending less money in terms of visual merchandising are experimenting with iBeacons and other devices to push and are looking for less expensive solutions. There is also a information to customers as they walk through different push for localization. Companies are adding a greater level areas of the store. of local relevance to what is right now a chain solution.

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign

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CASE STUDY: Storefront ROI in the United States

BY STYLMARK

QUICK FACTS Motivation: New Storefront Look Sector: Women’s Apparel Number of Stores: Ten Project Budget: N/A Desired ROI: N/A Retailer Victoria’s Secret approached Stylmark to develop an anodized aluminum extrusion that could replace the current steel extrusion they were using on their store­ fronts. Victoria’s Secret existing storefronts were made from a mirrored stainless steel. These steel extrusions used for the storefront were heavy, very difficult and time consuming to install.

Design Elements To begin the project, Stylmark developed a die similar to the existing steel extrusion that was twelve inches tall and developed a special finishing machine to achieve the same look as the current steel extrusion. Next, Stylmark developed a concept die drawing that was approved by Victoria’s Secret’s store design team based off the current

steel storefront extrusion being used. Then, working with Stylmark’s aluminum extruding partner, they finished the drawing, developed the tooling and did a die trial that took about four to five weeks. Once the die trial was approved, production on material began which took about two weeks.

Project Management There were ten stores in the redesign program. A Stylmark account manager worked directly with the store design team from Victoria’s Secret. The account manager brought the design vision to the Stylmark engineering team who developed the die. Once the die was developed, Stylmark’s purchasing manager worked with their extruding part­ ner on the die trial and then once the trial material was approved, store­ready extrusions were run. Those extru­ sions were then anodized to the 118 Victoria “Steel” finish and delivered to the customer. The finished product can be seen in the picture below.

Outcomes While both the steel extrusion and the anodized aluminum extrusion are very durable, the anodized extrusion installed in less time, required less labor on site and cost less to ship. The original cost per square foot was $220 and using the new material reduced the cost to $20 per square foot.

Return on Investment This was a 60% savings on material – and about 25% savings on labor. This was an immediate return for the retailer. Ten stores received the new storefront aluminum extrusion during this rollout. 8

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


Store Redesign Metrics Understanding what motivates retailers to execute a rede­ sign will help suppliers better serve their client. Knowing the key metrics and how to measure them, that will help suppliers show their value to the retailer. Shop! found some variation in the importance of vari­ ous metrics as ratings varied among survey respondent groups. The key to every successful project is making sure these metrics are clearly defined and agreed upon at the start of a project.

Designers on the other hand stated that sales per square foot (23%) was the most important metric in determining the success of a store redesign, followed by overall stores sales (15%) and sales lift across all channels (15%). When asked about the relative importance of other metrics, 96% of respondents stated brand perception was very/ extremely important and 82% stated brand awareness as very/extremely important. Finally, manufacturers stated overall sales and ROI were the most important metrics in determining the success of a store redesign (tied at 25% each). When asked about the relative importance of other metrics, 88% stated brand awareness and sales per square foot were very/extremely important.

Photo: iStock.com/fiphoto

For retailers, ROI (23%) was the most important metric in determining the success of a store design followed by overall store sales (17%), market share (10%) and conversion rates (10%). However, when asked about the relative importance of other metrics, 91% of respondents stated brand perception was very/extremely important. 81% of respondents stated brand awareness was very/extremely important.

KEY LEARNING: Ultimately, a store is the reflection of its brand and thus any design/redesign must reflect the values and value of that brand. Helping the retailer achieve such brand alignment and sales increases will help ensure a continued position as a valued partner.

KEY SUCCESS METRICS: RETAILERS % Very/Extremely Important

91%

87%

81%

81%

72%

71%

69%

69%

Brand Perception

Overall Store Sales

Brand Awareness

Brand Loyalty

ROI

Footfall (in­store traffic)

Category Sales

Sales per Square Ft.

Source: 2016 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign Survey

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign

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CASE STUDY: Relocation to New Retail Space in Canada BY CANADA’S BEST STORE FIXTURES INC. (CBSF INC.) QUICK FACTS Motivation: New concept in relocation Sector: Commercial Supplier: Electrical Supply & Power Alternatives Number of Stores: 103 across Canada Project Budget: ~$75,000 CDN Desired ROI: % increase in sales After working with CBSF Inc. to complete market analysis and develop their retail strategy, Westburne Electric had the opportunity to implement its new concept store in an existing market. Designed by CBSF Inc., this concept was the first to create the physical retail manifestation of the brand and experience.

Design Elements The retailer wanted to create a retail experience that celebrated the company brand and make their customers feel comfortable, which is not characteristic of its compet­ itors. It was important the concept be flexible to adapt to varying sized locations in their network of stores, ranging from 700 square feet to 3400 square feet, and showcase a wide range of products. Durability and quality were key to ensure their investment has a strong ROI (3 years).

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Two key features of this concept were the Power Lab and branded signage. The Power Lab was a designated area that served as a place for contractors to get their devices charged while they waited for orders. The area also provided contractors with information about alternative power sources, full energy solutions and other services the client provides. Information was presented in printed form through signage, supporting material on table top and trained staff on site to support and encourage discussion. The Power Lab consisted of laminate and metal tables with stools, and colored walls to promote the brand and create a focal area. The original intent was to leverage tablets and digital content, but as CBFS Inc. saw consistently across retailers in all markets, the task of content creation and management was typically a forgotten element and felt like a daunt­ ing task with little to no resources allocated to support in­house, and no budget to hire external management. Celebrating the retailer brand in store was not common in the industry. Branded signage to promote the retailer was pushed as the primary focus, with secondary status given to vendor and supplier branding. In this market, the retailer branding reminded the customer where they are

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


shopping, and the vendor and sup­ plier branding was important to retain credibility in offering. A combination of snap frames, printed vinyl applied direct to wall, along with card stock in acrylic sleeves were leveraged for both brand and category messaging.

Metrics of Success The redesign of a store at any level isn’t just a new look; it typically leads to store operations changes. This is why CBSF Inc. encourages retailers use metrics that measure staff adoption along with customer perceptions and finan­ cial. In this particular project the metrics were as follows: • Staff adoption of new processes, customer service training • Increase in customer loyalty program subscriptions • Increase in sales – especially over the counter. • Project cost ($/sf costs) a key factor.

Costs & Capital Investments Westburne’s costs covered everything from services, to fixtures, to team training. In particular, the costs used to calculate the costs ($/SF cost) for this particular proj­ ect included software licensing and hardware costs for customer tracking analysis to understand current shop­ ping patterns; store design, planning and graphic services; manufacturing of custom retail elements and sourcing of commodity fixtures; printing of large and small format signage; installation of retail elements including some GC work; and Westburne team member time for training to learn how to conduct business in the new store concept.

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: StoreStore Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Redesign

Outcome vs. Expectations Outcomes exceeded expectations on all fronts. From a store operations perspec­ tive, staff are embrac­ ing the new concept and the opportunities it provides to enable a better experience for customers. For the customers, surveys and focus groups provided insights to the concept with potential minor improvements recommended. The biggest feedback is this Westburne store really differentiates from competitors, making customers linger in store longer with the feeling of being serviced quicker. The new format has seen steady growth at or above targets as compared to previous year same store sales. As for the costs, the project was on bud­ get for design, manufacture and installation. As CBSF Inc. continues to work with Westburne to implement more of these concept stores, we continue to value engineer to be more cost effective.

Lessons Learned From the perspective of the retailer, partner selection is key. Westburne credits the continuity CBSF Inc. was able to provide in doing the research, designing the retail environ­ ment and manufacturing all retail elements in house as an invaluable benefit to them as a retailer. Westburne appre­ ciated CBSF Inc.’s flexibility, team work, and ability to create practical solutions that look great and don’t compromise on capacity or operations. From the perspective of CBSF Inc. the customer service they provide their customers – the retailers – is key to enabling retailers to move through a redesign process. Any redesign process, regardless of scale or definition, can seem daunting and expensive to most who aren’t familiar with it. It can be a great expense and a risk for retailers to move through change so transparency is key.

11 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


Calculating ROI ROI Calculation is Not Widespread While ROI may be important as a desired metric, few respondent companies actually calculated it. ROI, when calculated, also varied among all the respondents regard­ less of company type. Answers ranged from payback on capital investments, to energy savings and customer feedback. Those who do calculate ROI, however, do it consistently; the majority of whom calculated it on all their projects. While desired ROI outcomes vary among groups, one aspect was consistent among the three: the typical timeframe for calculating ROI was relatively short term (more than 1 year, but less than 3 years).

It’s impossible to know how long a redesign will last. We used to believe seven years, but now we are looking at five. Maybe this too will change soon, but if so, we need to really look at how to assess ROI and our whole way of what

redesign looks like.

— retailer

Photo: iStock.com/Yahor Piaskouski

Shop! found that 60% of retailer respondents calculated ROI on a store redesign. Only 27% of the designer respondents calculated ROI on a store redesign, and 19% of manufacturer respondents calculated ROI on products sold for store design. ROI is greater when a holistic approach is taken. When the moti­ vators are focused on subjective as well as objective goals, the scope becomes robust and impacts more customer touch points, resulting in a cohesive in­store experience that inherently reaps tangible results. While objective goals of overall sales and in­store traf­ fic continue to be of high importance, more subjective goals of brand perceptions and shopper engagement are undeniably proving to hold significant value as they often drive overall sales, albeit less directly and immediately. The power of “buzz,” online reviews, bloggers, and others are highly influential, whether positive or negative. The store experience is a key touchpoint that can create passionate brand advocates, or detractors.

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KEY LEARNING: Given the importance of ROI for retailers in evaluating store design success, designers and manufacturers must strive for the same metrics. Tangible impacts on sales/profits, foot traffic, and conversion rates are important, as are less tangible impacts on brand perceptions, loyalty, shopper engagement and experience.

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


CASE Experience in in India India BY BYGENSLER GENSLER CASESTUDY: STUDY:Rethinking Rethinking the Customer Experience QUICKFACTS FACTS QUICK Motivation: RelaunchReady­to­Wear Ready­to­WearBBrand rand Motivation: Relaunch Sector:Men’s Men’sApparel Apparel Sector: Number of Stores: prototypes(mall (mall++flagship) flagship) in India Number of Stores: 22prototypes ProjectBudget: Budget:N/A N/A Project Desired ROI: N/A Desired ROI: N/A

TheRaymond RaymondGroup Groupisisone oneof ofIndia’s India’slargest largest branded branded fabric fabric The andfashion fashionretailers retailerswith withover over700 700stores storesin in over over 200 200 cities. cities. and As a leader in luxury textiles and made­to­measure mens As a leader in luxury textiles and made­to­measure mens tailoring,Raymond Raymondwas waslooking lookingto toexpand expand into into the the ready­ ready­ tailoring, to­wear category. After closing all its existing stores due to­wear category. After closing all its existing stores due lacklusterperformance, performance,Raymond Raymondturned turned to to Gensler Gensler to to totolackluster assist in crafting its ready­to­wear brand story and creating assist in crafting its ready­to­wear brand story and creating newconcept conceptprototype prototypestores. stores. new

DesignElements Elements Design

keycomponent componentof ofdeveloping developingthe thestore store design design strategy strategy AAkey wasaafocus focuson onmarket marketresearch researchand andconsumer consumer insights insights to to was refine the brand story, define the customer journey, and refine the brand story, define the customer journey, and identify key storytelling moments, leading to an innovative identify key storytelling moments, leading to an innovative concept addressing the modern Indian male. Given the concept addressing the modern Indian male. Given the enormous brand recognition for its textiles and custom tai­ enormous brand recognition for its textiles and custom tai­ loring, the challenge was to leverage the brand’s strengths loring, the challenge was to leverage the brand’s strengths while appealing to a different target audience and avoid­ while appealing to a different target audience and avoid­ ing brand confusion. Purposeful curation of merchandise, ing brand confusion. Purposeful curation of merchandise, “dioramas” that styled that latest fashions, attentive service “dioramas” that styled that latest fashions, attentive service

evoking evoking the the tailoring tailoringexperience, experience,and andseamless seamlesstechnol­ technol­ ogy enabled a customer experience that ogy enabled a customer experience thatcombined combinedthe the convenience and speed of modern shopping with the convenience and speed of modern shopping with thehigh high touch of a personalized, bespoke encounter. touch of a personalized, bespoke encounter.

Outcomes Outcomes

The results were literally award­winning, with several The results were literally award­winning, with several industry awards since opening, but most importantly, industry awards since opening, but most importantly, they exceeded business objectives. they exceeded business objectives.

Key Metrics Key Metrics

The client measured success in terms of store sales, The client measured success in terms of store sales, footfall, conversion rates and media “buzz”. footfall, conversion rates and media “buzz”. The project resulted in: The project resulted in: • Product sales increase of 25% • Product sales increase of 25% • Conversion of footfalls of 80% • Conversion of footfalls of 80% (industry avg. ~60%) (industry avg. ~60%) • Average Bill Value up by 50% • Average Bill Value up by 50% • Setting of retail benchmarks • Setting of retail benchmarks in Bangalore in Bangalore

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: StoreStore Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Redesign 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign

13 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign 13


KEY TAKE AWAYS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The key to success is to align store redesign goals and objectives with larger client strategic objectives, com­ pany culture, consumer expectations and empowered resources. In addition, the research showed that strategic, differentiated, in­store brand positioning with clear goals provide an ironclad framework for success. Creating a relevant space that truly engages with the customer while elevating and building memorable in­store experi­ ences, will set the retailer apart from the competition. The factors influencing ROI on store design are multi­ faceted. There are tangible and intangible gains, measured through traditional and non­traditional metrics, supported by objective and subjective goals. The more holistic the approach, the more lucrative the results. Success is depen­ dent upon the scope you are willing to embrace, the clarity of the goals identified and the steadfast commitment to achieve articulated objectives.

STORE REDESIGN It is extremely important to outline and understand the metrics for success and outcomes based on the impact to staff, customers, and sales, as well as project costs. Often overlooked in the analysis is the employee whose produc­ tivity and customer interactions are also impacted by store design. Any challenges faced by store staff can ripple to the customer experience. Service interactions are a critical part of the store experience that must also be “designed.” Thus, staff should understand the impact to their operations with the new concept early on, be provided training and support to manage through any changes, and given the other tools to help them deliver the full sensory experience for shoppers.

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MOTIVATING FACTORS Designers and manufacturers need to better understand retailer motivations and budgets for a store redesign to help meet their core objectives. Clients typically come with a budget number in mind and some ideas on what they’d like to see. Be able to read the client as quickly as possible to determine if the budget or the ideas are what is motivating them – if it’s budget, then set expectations early on if their inspiration is not in­line with what they can afford; if it’s inspiration, then push to create something that will meet their expectations and not disappoint/restrict based on costs.

KEY SUCCESS METRICS In this ever­changing landscape, ROI has become a con­ tinuous process rather than an annual one. The evaluation process itself needs to be more fluid and more focused to ensure it continues to advance the organization toward its vision and goals. These mid­course corrections also include more frequent competitive reviews. Those who aren’t keeping an eye on the industry changes and the competition will be leapfrogged. We have seen the recent flurry of downsizing and store closures and wonder what metric were, or were not, measured.

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign


REFERENCE NOTES

ABOUT SHOP!

Canada’s Best Store Fixtures Inc., Case Study: Relocation to New Retail Space in Canada

Shop! (www.shopassociation.org) is the global non-

EWI Worldwide, The ROI on Retail Design, 2015

environments and experiences. Shop! represents more

Gensler, Case Study: Rethinking the Customer Experience in India

vides value to the global retail market-place through

profit trade association dedicated to enhancing retail than 2,000 member companies worldwide and proits leadership in: Research (consumer behavior, trends,

Retail Next, http://retailnext.net/en/blog/ brick­and­mortar­vs­online­retail/

and futures); Design (customer experience design,

Shop! 2016 Industry Size and Composition Report

(manufacturing, construction, materials, methods,

store design, display design, fixture design); Build logistics, and installation); Marketing (in-store

Specialty Lighting, Industry Insight: Lighting for a Store Redesign

communications, in-store marketing, technology, visual merchandising); and Evaluation (ROI, analytics,

Stylmark, Case Studies: Storefront ROI in the United States

recognition/awards).

For additional questions about the data or information contained in this White Paper please contact us at: mbaumgartner@shopassociation.org shopassociation.org, or call us at (312) 863-2900

@shopassociation

Florida Office

Illinois Office

@shopassociation

4651 Sheridan Street, Suite 470 Hollywood, FL 33021 (954) 893-7300

440 N. Wells Street, Suite 740 Chicago, IL 60654 (312) 863-2900

Shop! Enhancing Retail Environments & Experiences © Copyright 2017 by Shop! All Rights Reserved

2017 Shop! ROI Standards: Store Redesign

No part of this report may be reproduced for distribution without the express written permission of the publisher.

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THE A MERCHA


Prince Swaray

Morgan Countryman

National Account Sales Manager, Bowery Farming

Senior Manager, Communications and Community Involvement, Brookshire Grocery Co.

Age: 37

M

any sales professionals spend time in the field. Swaray finds value in the 21st-century equivalent, bringing retail customers and potential customers to Bowery Farming’s vertical-farming operations. There, they can see firsthand how the company’s produce is created, from seed and germination to packaging, and discover how it tastes. With 15 years of experience in the CPG industry, Swaray is a relationship builder who works closely with customers such as Whole Foods Market, Walmart and Albertsons to help them realize the competitive advantage and long-term benefit of access to sustainably grown greens. He’s also a mentor at Bowery and, as befits a person who grew up in a food desert, a staunch advocate for the democratization of fresh food.

Age: 28

A

s a testament to her skill and dedication to the company, Countryman was given the chance to lead the department where she had worked for the past several years, when the group experienced a staff turnover. Currently, following another promotion to senior manager of communications, she guides a diverse team that she carefully built and now guides to share Brookshire’s messages with internal and external audiences across a variety of platforms. In the past year, she’s played a key role on a cross-functional team to explain the changes and impact of the ever-fluctuating pandemic to customers, who needed updated and understandable information. When asked to describe her leadership and potential in three words, her nominator summed it up as “Get it done!”

Chase Gilliam

Casey Hicks

Category Manager, Brookshire Grocery Co.

E-Commerce Supervisor, Brookshire Grocery Co.

Age: 35

Age: 39

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W

he role of procurement manager during the great pandemic stock-up of early 2020 was a pivotal one at a precarious time, and Gilliam faced unprecedented challenges head-on to keep inventory flowing to Brookshire’s stores. His 15-plus years of experience across distribution, logistics and corporate support prepared him well for that job and for his current role as category manager for frozen foods, another area that has picked up steam in recent times. As Gilliam transitions to a different area of business within the company, he is recognized for his eagerness to learn and grow while also serving as mentor for both his current and past teams. He also serves on the race team committee that organizes running events to raise funds for local charities in Brookshire’s market area.

hile some just roll with the changes, Hicks charges right into a new way of doing things. After joining the e-commerce team in pre-pandemic 2018, she has been at the forefront of that part of Brookshire’s business, leading the introduction of the retailer’s curbside service across 138 stores and helping launch Instacart service at 125 locations, as demand for online ordering, pickup and delivery surged. Thanks to Hicks and the small team she’s built, Brookshire’s e-commerce is now a multimillion-dollar annual business. As she’s broadened her company’s reach, she’s recognized that sustenance is a two-way street: Hicks is involved in Brookshire’s team that has raised more than $1 million for nonprofit organizations through races in Texas and Louisiana.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Matthew Roach

Tim Brown

Inventory Control Manager, Brookshire Grocery Co.

COO, Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets

Age: 37

Age: 38

o be sure, recent events have underscored the importance of a strong supply chain and agile logistics. To ensure that Brookshire’s stores have the inventory that they – and their customers – need, Roach runs a purchasing team that manages all warehouse inventory and goods not for resale. He recently led a total reworking of the distribution network for store deliveries, introducing an every-other-day delivery schedule for stores to improve stock levels and address demand spikes. Roach learned the ropes well and quickly after joining the company as an intern in the logistics department in 2013, soon moving up to roles in systems and traffic. He is as compassionate as he is driven, coordinating service to food banks, hospitals and nursing homes during a damaging storm last winter.

jack-of-all-trades background and a career-long devotion to the industry have made Brown a leader with a lot of depth. He began working for the company as a bagger when he was just 14, and went on to work in essentially all positions before being named COO in fall 2020, during a peak pandemic wave. Brown guided the retailer with a steady hand through that and other crises, including a severe flood in one area and civil unrest in another, resulting in an overall 65% increase in nonfood sales, a 75% rise in liquor sales, a 44% leap in floral sales and a 52% spike in seafood sales, along with a doubling of online shopping orders. He remains committed to community improvement, championing such charitable efforts as fundraisers and food recovery programs.

Ryan Hayward

Joseph Moore

Manager, Customer Experience, C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc.

Store Director, Cannata’s Family Market

T

Age: 26

S

till only in his mid-20s, Hayward has shone at his organization since first joining its leadership development program, where he rotated through different areas of the business to gain a foothold. Later, he racked up experience and was given more responsibility on major accounts to keep supplies moving and customers satisfied. The wheels are in constant motion for Hayward, who literally pulled over during an off-hours car trip to visit family to solve a complex logistics issue by working with the grocer’s partners. That spirit of dedication is evident in the terms used to describe a young leader who balances shoppers’ needs with mindfulness of the company’s budgets and operations: selfless, hardworking and empathetic.

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Age: 33

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aving scaled the ladder at Cannata’s Family Market, Moore understands the importance of every rung. He started at the family-owned retail business as a cashier at age 16 and worked his way up through the ranks to become a store director at a flagship location by age 30 by, among other things, understanding the importance of tradition to local shoppers and earning the respect of others. Moore has facilitated the adoption of new technologies to meet the needs of today’s consumers, but balances data-driven insights with authentic relationships with shoppers and among his own staff. To that end, he kept the store staffed during the pandemic by bringing on new team members during a time of labor shortages.


Congratulations to our GenNext winners! Thank you for your dedication to The Kroger Co. and the communities we serve.

Chris Blandford Adult Beverage Field Specialist Louisville

Sarah Davies Senior Supply Chain Manager Manufacturing

Adam Drahman Division e-Commerce Manager Cincinnati-Dayton

Brittany Foulks Division E-Commerce Manager Ralphs

Leroy Huckleberry Store Leader Michigan

Greg Junk Regional Category Manager Merchandising

Brittany Massey Assistant Human Resources Leader Delta

Christina Ohmer Category Manager Merchandising

Meranda Reed Store Leader Central

Nate Sadow Sr. Leader, Leadership Development Human Resources

Craig Sanders Division E-Commerce Manager Nashville

Brady Smallwood Sr. Director, Strategy, Planning, & Operations eCommerce

Abigail Sturgill

Bridget Wojciak Director of Nutrition Kroger Health

Jake VanWagnen Division E-Commerce Manager Michigan

Vice President, Merchandising Analytics & Strategy

Sr. Manager, Associate Communications & Engagement

Corporate Affairs

Shaan Zaveri 84.51


FEATURE

2021

Awards

Elisha Gil

John Kenny

Director of Marketing, Celsius

General Manager, City Center Market

Age: 30

Age: 32

A

K

Charles Russell

Dustin Duerr

Director, Produce and Floral, Cub Foods/UNFI

Category Manager, DSD Grocery, Cub Foods/UNFI

Age: 34

Age: 39

s head of marketing, Gil brings her own unique energy to the energy drink company that has disrupted the beverage category. Working with cross-functional teams, she leads innovation and activation strategies from concept to commercialization across several channels that align with consumer trends and data. One of the most recent launches under Gil’s purview is a new Celsius Vibe line that’s off to a strong start. While driving development and engagement, she also seeks to positively affect the broader community through such efforts as a partnership with the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Gil is credited with motivating company-wide success through a combination of social intelligence, inclusiveness and agility, allowing her to discover and maximize a host of opportunities.

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director-level professional described as focused, dedicated and accountable, Russell has made inroads and key changes at Cub Foods, adjusting the retailer’s go-to-market approach to include more consistent and higher-quality products, and revamping in-store merchandising to highlight the freshness and variety of offerings. He’s a big-picture leader who also possesses an eye for detail, as evidenced by his tactic to provide cut melons and tray-pack corn for convenience-minded shoppers. Russell fosters productivity in others, too, through efforts like a program incentivizing produce leaders to win a trip to see suppliers’ crops during peak harvest season. This GenNext leader is also quick to jump in with ideas for other parts of the business, aiming to elevate results and better service customers.

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enny had big shoes to fill when he was brought on to replace a retiring general manager who worked at the City Center Market food cooperative for almost 20 years. Since he took the helm of the organization, which has nearly 4,000 member-owners in a relatively small community, Kenny has used his collaborative nature, sharp communication skills and attention to detail to improve customer service and employee engagement while continually discovering products that resonate with the co-op’s members. He’s credited with keeping shelves stocked during the pandemic and resolving the ensuing supply chain issues, as well as with helping the company achieve a gainsharing bonus for three of the past four quarters — a record for City Center Market. This past summer, Kenny oversaw plans to implement a new full employee benefits package.

W

hen opportunities arise, Duerr pursues them doggedly and with impactful results. When he was in Cub Foods’ bakery area, for example, he worked with his team and vendors to devise a 10-week fall holiday display plan and a baking book with coupons linked to display activity; the initiative spurred higher incremental sales and profits, and, with some modifications, became a yearly plan. After taking over a role in DSD a year and a half ago, he implemented a new strategy for soda and chips that shifted from key holiday weeks to full-year promotions, and collaborated closely with vendors to overcome any hesitations. Duerr isn’t afraid of making hard decisions for the betterment of the company and its vendor partners, and his actions are reflected in continual positive results in his category.



FEATURE

2021

Awards

Erin Wisecup

Ashley Tyrner

Category Director, Fareway Stores Inc.

Founder and CEO, Farmbox Direct and FarmboxRx

Age: 32

W

isecup has successfully launched a variety of programs and events, all of which have realized increased sales of 24% and above. Not only has she become an integral part of the buying team at Fareway, but she has also lifted the bottom line in categories she oversees, and serves on various internal committees that give back to the greater community. In 2020, Wisecup launched a bakery pie program that generated an incremental sales increase of 333%. She bested these successful numbers for the program in 2021, realizing an additional 256% increase over the previous year. In the candy category, Wisecup held a Candy Craze event in 2020, an internal store competition that helped drive sales. This resulted in excitement at the retail level and appealing displays.

T

yrner was a single mom on food stamps who created a national brand through which she’s revolutionizing the future of health care. In January 2020, she partnered with Capital Blue Cross and Vibra Health to create a space for food as medicine, and through FarmboxRx, insurance members receive produce boxes to help with their chronic and diet-related illnesses. This initiative is not only positively affecting the growth of her company, but it’s also bringing fresh fruits and vegetables directly to the doors of vulnerable populations living in food deserts and suffering from food insecurity. In addition to speaking around the country as a food-policy advocate, Tyrner found the time to help create partnerships with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.

Josh Domingues

Kenneth Hausmann

Founder and CEO, Flashfood Inc.

Director of Natural Foods, Foodland Supermarkets

Age: 32

A

fter hearing how food waste negatively affects the environment, Domingues founded Flashfood in 2016. The Flashfood app allows grocers to offer shoppers reduced prices on food that would otherwise go to landfills because of imperfections, impending best-by dates or overstock. Flashfood worked through various iterations of a business model, and it’s through Domingues’ approach to partnerships that it’s seen success. With the help of its food retail partners across North America, 20 million-plus pounds of food have been rescued. Stories from users who rely on Flashfood to feed their families fresh food on a budget continue to motivate him to grow the business and keep pushing industry giants to get involved.

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Age: 38

progressivegrocer.com

Age: 35

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strong business sense and the willingness to take calculated risks are traits that Kenneth Hausman brought to his former role at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. He joined the company as dairy category manager, then led frozen and bulk foods before taking on all of category management. As Hausmann, a former Save-A-Lot and Tops Market employee, ascended to leadership positions at Fresh Thyme, he helped navigate the merchant team through the turbulent times of the pandemic while continuing to support innovation and sales growth. Hausmann recently joined the Honolulu-based Foodland Supermarket chain, Hawaii’s largest locally owned and operated grocer, with 32 stores across four of the islands.



FEATURE

2021

Awards

John O’Reilly

Fiorella McIntyre

Key Account Executive, Retail, Google

Director, Made to Order Buying, Grocery Outlet

Age: 30

Age: 35

A

t Google, O’Reilly is focused on paving the new future within retail tech by unlocking the unlimited possibilities within cloud and artificial-intelligence/ machine-learning applications to solve some of retail’s biggest challenges. He currently works with some of the largest grocery retailers in North America, helping spearhead their digital transformations. Beyond solving specific problems for his retail partners, O’Reilly has been an advocate for solving some of the biggest universal challenges within the industry. Whether it be food waste, plastic pollution, or food and health deserts, he’s been at the forefront of uniting the industry to solve these problems. In regard to food deserts, he connected executives from various retailers to work on approaches to help them better serve their communities. Additionally, in his spare time, O’Reilly volunteers at his local food bank.

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cIntyre leads a team of nine buyers and assistant buyers responsible for more than $600 million in annual sales at 400-plus stores. Having purchased across multiple categories throughout her career at Grocery Outlet, she continues to play a pivotal role in creating and maintaining strategic relationships with suppliers that help the company deliver on its value proposition of amazing prices and a well-rounded shopping experience. During the past year, McIntyre’s team managed through supply chain disruption and uncertainty, enabling the Made to Order team to support more than 23% sales growth in 2020. Her deep understanding of the Grocery Outlet business model allows her to lead her team to continue to innovate and attract new customers without losing the excitement and treasure-hunt experience offered with the closeout assortment.


Richele Middlebrooks

Spencer Price

Director of Talent Acquisition, Grocery Outlet

Co-Founder and CEO, Halla

Age: 25

Age: 37

S

ince joining Grocery Outlet in 2018, Middlebrooks has been focused on operational improvements as well as culture and diversity. She led the company’s first formal onboarding process and created a project-based internship program that resulted in a 60% hire rate at the fast-growing company. Middlebrooks serves on Grocery Outlet’s first Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council and is the chair for diversity recruiting initiatives for the company. Under her leadership, more than 150 corporate employees have been virtually interviewed and hired since the start of the pandemic. Middlebrooks is known for her unconventional hiring methods, which can involve taking “risks” on applicants who may not have all of the skills needed for a particular job, but possess the character and drive that make them a fit for the company’s unique culture.

Congratulatons! x

A

s a sophomore at University of Southern California, Price asked the question we’ve all asked our friends before: “What should we eat?” Given everyone’s growing list of food allergies and preferences, he had no idea that the answer would eventually lead him to leave school to launch his own business. Since then, Price has been CEO of Halla, navigating the company, which he founded in January 2016, through numerous pivots, from a mobile app competitive to Yelp, to Taste Intelligence, an artificial-intelligence software solution sold to grocers. He’s also raised $8.5 million from outside investors and managed to make key connections in supporting Halla’s growth. Price always sets high goals for himself and for the company at large, and inspires others to actually make them happen through his optimism, creativity and good faith.

Honored to be selected as a Progressive Grocer 2021

IMPACT

AWARD WINNER In recognition of our commitment to sustainability.

Praveena Sundarraj I B

OV TIO D

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Rafael Gonzalez

Chris Harmon

Store Manager, Harris Teeter LLC

Workforce Management (WFM) Business Analyst, Harris Teeter LLC

Age: 29

W

ith a passion for customer and associate experience, Gonzalez shifted the culture of a store with unfavorable morale and negative operations expectations. His Virginia store significantly improved its operations scores, bringing 40%-to-50%-range scores up to 80% for the first quarter in 2021, while the company averaged 67.7%. Gonzalez’s team also averaged 75% amid the pandemic in 2020, while the company average was 64.9%. Also impressive are his customer service results of 97.5% through calendar year 2021, greater than the company’s 96.6% average. This is a result of Gonzalez’s ability to lead by example and coach in the moment, and his recognition and celebration of high performers. He’s also involved in the Loudoun County Government Center’s program for individuals with special needs.

I

n today’s labor market, it’s a bit of an understatement to note that employee scheduling can be a challenge. Harmon, a WFM business analyst for Harris Teeter, has contended with labor shortages, pandemic-related changes in shopper behavior and store operations, and state governments’ predictive scheduling legislation to roll out a time-saving, cost-efficient solution that accurately forecasts and creates schedules. Working with supply chain provider Blue Yonder, this young leader has helped managers generate schedules up to three weeks in advance and set up systems that allow for nimble adjustments. Harmon, who has spent 17 of his 23 years in the grocery industry with Harris Teeter, is a prolific presenter on WFM and labor issues, and chairs a WFM special-interest group of Blue Yonder customers.

Jeff Helms

Danna Robinson

District Manager, Harris Teeter LLC

Communications Manager, Harris Teeter LLC

Age: 36

A

t each new store opening, Helms ensures that his associates are connected to what it means to be the retailer of choice in a sea of competition. He runs one of Harris Teeter’s highest-volume districts as part of a district encompassing stores in multiple states and marketing areas. Helms continuously builds his team through internal associate growth, and his personal brand of mentoring is reflected in the excellent performance of many market leaders. He also plays an active role in his local community, sitting on the board of directors for the Lowcountry Food Bank, serving as co-chair of Harris Teeter’s Cooper River Bridge Run Committee — a role integral to the company’s business strategy in Charleston, S.C. — and promoting fundraisers for nonprofits throughout South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

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Age: 37

progressivegrocer.com

Age: 38

R

obinson’s authenticity shines through in her work with Harris Teeter’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and Women’s Empowerment Group (WEG) — of which she’s a founding member and co-chair. She recently hosted a listening session for senior leaders to hear from women across the company about their experiences and how the company can better support them. Robinson works collaboratively with multiple state retail associations to lobby for proposed legislation affecting the grocery industry. Her leadership in environmental, social and governance work is also instrumental in how Harris Teeter goes to business as a trusted community partner. Additionally, Robinson serves on the board of directors for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, among other philanthropic activities.



FEATURE

2021

Awards

Justin Coaldrake

Daira Driftmier

Assistant VP, E-Commerce, Hy-Vee Inc.

Director, Hy-Vee KidsFit & Fitness, Hy-Vee Inc.

Age: 30

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he impact of Coaldrake’s ability to adapt and lead could be seen at the onset of COVID-19 and the transition of e-commerce operations from fulfillment centers to retail stores. He played a significant role in developing and growing Hy-Vee’s Aisles Online grocery service, and has been a key leader in overseeing the grocer’s e-commerce grocery operations and its more than 10,000 Aisles Online employees. Recently, Coaldrake helped deploy ShopperKit, a new order fulfillment software for Aisles Online employees, across Hy-Vee’s 280-plus stores in only eight weeks. He has also been integral in finding ways to monetize the Hy-Vee Aisles Online platform through search functionality with vendors. Coaldrake has also played a key part in establishing partnerships with third-party services like DoorDash.

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riftmier is the mastermind behind Hy-Vee KidsFit, an innovative program offering free physical activity programming and games to schoolage children. She demonstrated leadership and innovation during the pandemic with the creation of KidsFit at Home, a daily virtual program that provided easy-to-follow activities that could be completed at home while many schools were temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Much of the KidsFit content has received more than 9 million views online. Recently, Driftmier has been overseeing the launch of school wellness clubs to provide resources and quarterly challenges for schools to help get kids excited about nutrition and movement. She has also increased signups for the KidsFit Club – a free membership program designed to encourage kids and families to make healthy choices – by 271%.

Jessica Enos

Chelsea Kumbera

VP, Training and Education/Employee Engagement, Hy-Vee Inc.

VP, Brand Image, Creative Director, Hy-Vee Inc.

Age: 36

Age: 32

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n 2020, Enos helped establish the Hy-Vee Tuition Assistance program in partnership with Bellevue University, offering employees up to $10,500 in annual tuition assistance. She was also responsible for the career path program Aisles of Opportunity, which encourages employees from all levels to explore opportunities available at Hy-Vee. Working with the VP of produce, Enos led the development of a weekly video series, “Produce Bites,” which offers tips and simple how-to’s in short segments for retail produce employees. She also recently helped lead a team in implementing a new human resources information system, which will roll out in 2022. Enos’ openness to other ideas has been instrumental in shaping Hy-Vee’s culture to be more inclusive for employees of all backgrounds, races, ages, languages and abilities.

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umbera is integral in elevating internal and external communications. Her strong vision and desire to innovate led to the creation of Hy-Vee’s new Mega Ad, a monthly full-color magazine-style ad highlighting Hy-Vee’s products and services. Meanwhile, Kumbera’s outside-the-box thinking helped with the conception, development and production of H House, Hy-Vee’s iconic video advertisement. Her team also spearheaded the design of Hy-Vee’s newest app, and she leads branding efforts for the grocer’s new store format and division, Dollar Fresh. Additionally, when faced with an employee turnover that created challenges for the advertising and design teams, Kumbera organized and hired a new creative team, building out the organizational chart for it to serve the internal teams that needed graphic design services.


We are proud to honor our GenNext 2021 awardees. And we applaud this new generation of emerging leaders in grocery for their innovation, ambition and commitment to the industry.

Lauren Schiavone

Andy Butler

Martin Sanchez

Senior Director, Urban Innovation

Senior Director, Market Operations

Category Development Director, Publix Team


FEATURE

2021

Awards

Anne Roth

Jody Sandy

Director, Government Relations, Hy-Vee Inc.

SVP, Supply Chain and Transportation, Hy-Vee Inc.

Age: 31

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oth executes HyVee’s government relations strategic priorities for the states of Iowa and Nebraska. In Iowa, she helped engage with more than 185 bills that were introduced by the state legislature over the past year on topics related to grocery retail. Roth regularly collaborates with elected leaders to advocate for policies that assist the company’s growth and prosperity. She also administers the Hy-Vee Employees’ Political Action Committee, which helps support the company’s stance on key issues. What’s more, Roth contributed significantly to COVID-19 relief efforts this year. Working with legislators in Iowa, she helped pass legislation that expands pharmacies’ scope of practice, which in turn allows Hy-Vee pharmacists to operate at the top of their licenses to better serve patients. The passing of these bills was integral in positioning Hy-Vee as a major player in the fight against the coronavirus.

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andy has successfully transformed Hy-Vee’s three independent transportation fleets into a single organization that can better serve the company’s 280-plus store footprint. As part of that consolidation, she oversaw the rollout of new automatic onboard recording device units, which have the ability to transmit data immediately to authorized safety officials to help keep Hy-Vee drivers safer and more efficient. Sandy embraces change and technological innovations to keep the supply chain in line with the company’s overall growth. As a rare female leader in the supply chain world, she believes that women can help more quickly and more easily detect changes and shifts in customer demand, because women supply chain executives often play unique roles as both subject-matter experts and heads of households who make purchasing decisions.

Elisa Sloss

Angela Kinsley

VP, HealthMarkets and Dietitians, Hy-Vee Inc.

Customer Service Manager, Kinsley’s ShopRite of Brodheadsville, East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Age: 36

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hanks to Sloss’ leadership, Hy-Vee HealthMarket departments added extended product lines tailored to customers following specialty diets. At the same time, she and her team launched a partnership that saw GNC vitamin and dietary supplements added to HealthMarket, along with pre-packaged bulk food and CBD products. Hy-Vee’s in-store dietitian programs have also flourished under her guidance, with dietitians annually leading more than 150,000 customers on store tours to help find products to meet shoppers’ specific dietary needs. Additionally, Sloss has overseen dietitians’ media outreach efforts in their local markets, which last year resulted in more than 1,700 media appearances. When COVID-19 hit, she led the implementation of a virtual dietitian services platform that resulted in great engagement and return on investment, and that is expected to continue growing beyond the pandemic.

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insley isn’t just a Progressive Grocer GenNexter, but also a next-gen leader at her company. After starting out as a cashier, she recently completed Wakefern Food Corp.’s Next Gen Leadership Program, which inspired her to return to school to earn an MBA. Kinsley oversees donation requests at her store and works with nonprofits, supporting them in their fundraising efforts. She also organizes a Halloween trick-or-treat event at the store that hosts close to 300 children annually. During the pandemic, Kinsley couldn’t let the children down, so she stood outside the store all day so kids could take part in a drive-thru event and still get their bag of treats. She also organized free associate meal days every month. Whether it’s helping kids or employees, or serving as a role model, there’s a famous saying at ShopRite: “Angie can help.”


Congratulations on your 2021 Progressive Grocer GenNex Award!

Charlie Russell

Dustin Duerr

Director, Produce & Floral

Category Manager, DSD Grocery


FEATURE

2021

Awards

Chris Blandford

Sarah Davies

Adult Beverage Field Specialist, The Kroger Co.

Senior Supply Chain Manager, The Kroger Co.

Age: 38

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Adam Drahman

Brittany Foulks

Division E-Commerce Manager, The Kroger Co.

E-Commerce Manager, The Kroger Co./Ralphs

Age: 37

Age: 36

rahman currently manages more than 90 pickup locations, including the first-ever Ocado fulfillment center. He has created all standard operating procedures and best practices for the Ocado fulfillment center and store associates. While managing a Kroger pickup-only location, Drahman trained and onboarded more than 700 associates and selected and trained all employees in leadership roles. He also developed a new leadership model, which resulted in the ability to get controllable out-of-stocks to below 50. In the course of his work, Drahman has gained habits and skills that allow him to anticipate future trends. His visionary thinking resulted in best practices adopted by 3,500-plus stores across the entire company. These best practices have saved the company millions of dollars while improving the overall Kroger customer experience.

fter joining Kroger’s Ralphs division as a part-time courtesy clerk in 2003, Foulks went on to hold a series of store operations and district management roles. That background made her the ideal candidate to tackle a special assignment at the onset of the pandemic to accelerate the rollout of Ralphs’ grocery pickup service. Foulks and her team quickly expanded pickup service from 50 locations to all 187 Ralphs stores in Southern California. Thanks to her efforts, Ralphs’ pickup service showed record sales growth as the number of orders more than tripled. Foulks was recently promoted to her current role, and in that capacity leads a team of five e-commerce professionals. She has also achieved several educational milestones, including completion of various certification programs and the Kroger leadership program.

landford is the face of Kroger’s wine and spirits department in the Louisville division. He developed and maintains the Chris’ Picks program, which introduces customers to exciting items through weekly ads and in-store signage. He has made appearances on podcasts, festival stages and TV promoting Kroger and his local picks. Last year, he was the curator and co-founder of The Ultimate Bourbon Auction to End Hunger, which raised more than $280,000 in its first year. Blandford has helped raise $1 million-plus for local charities. Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic as stores were running low on hand sanitizer, he worked with local distilleries to secure the in-demand item for associates. He also developed and teaches Kroger’s first wine and spirits qualification program, training associates in this category and developing them into experts in the field.

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he ability to drive operational excellence through cross-functional collaboration is a hallmark of how Davies leads high-performing teams. During the recent startup of a new facility in Las Vegas, Davies hired a 20-person team to support 250 front-line associates on a project that prior to her involvement was behind schedule. Near the end of 2020, Davies led an effort to improve market share for Kroger’s Fry’s division. She quickly built a team, evaluated upstream supply chain challenges, and drove process improvements that improved stock levels and shopper satisfaction. When Davies isn’t focused on boosting supply chain efficiency, she makes a difference in the Las Vegas community by collaborating with the Henderson Chamber of Commerce and Feeding America to help support families in need.

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We are Coca-Cola and so much more, offering the preferred categories and leading brands to drive your sales and profit growth. Contact your Coca-Cola representative, call 1-800-241-COKE, or visit www.coca-colacompany.com/brands

©2021 The Coca-Cola Company


FEATURE

2021

Awards

Leroy Huckleberry

Greg Junk

Store Leader, Kroger, Sterling Heights, Mich., The Kroger Co.

Regional Category Manager, The Kroger Co.

Age: 32

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fter joining Kroger as an assistant store leader in 2017, Huckleberry was soon elevated to the role of store leader, and he’s been making a difference ever since. He’s been put in charge of higher-volume stores on several occasions, where his passion for people has been highly evident. Since assuming his current role, he’s hired more than 30 people within eight weeks in an area where hiring was traditionally difficult. Thanks to his leadership style, in stores where Huckleberry is in a management role, turnover declines and sales increase. He thinks outside of the box to resolve opportunities, and regularly shares his business card with customers to discuss opportunities with stores, resulting in great conversations. Huckleberry is regarded as someone who leads by example to build a strong foundation of trust among his team members.

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Age: 31

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ccording to his nominator, Junk deserves a toast for his efforts leading adult beverage categories for Kroger. He has crafted quite a legacy in beer at the retailer, starting with a successful full-strength category conversion at the King Soopers division and continuing through his stints managing the beer category for several divisions. Today, Junk handles the total adult beverage category, accelerating growth with tactics like embracing digital coupons that garner new shoppers and creating a full-year national cross-merchandising calendar that builds baskets with beer and other categories. Junk takes pride in working one on one with CPGs, partnering on innovative offers and pursuing new program opportunities. Outside of work, he’s engaged with the community, volunteering for his church and speaking to MBA classes at a nearby university.


Brittany Massey

Christina Ohmer

Assistant Human Resources Leader, The Kroger Co.

Category Manager, The Kroger Co.

Age: 35

Age: 33

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CONGRATULATIONS!

assey began her career with the Kroger Delta division in 2007 as a front end associate while earning a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Memphis. Over the past 14 years, she has earned many promotions, including acceptance into the company’s management training program. In 2020, she became a store leader, overseeing day-to-day operations at a location that previously was unprofitable and had issues with consistency in providing Kroger’s Full, Fresh & Friendly shopping experience. During her time as store leader, the location showed increased sales, EBITDA, in-stock levels and Friendly results. This year, she was promoted to assistant human resources leader, supporting and implementing HR strategies for 95 stores and more than 13,000 associates.

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hmer has modernized the outdoor floral category. Introducing an advanced benchmark of standards centered on capturing more households, she delivered more than 15 years of sales growth in under two years. Additionally, Ohmer has revitalized strategies for e-commerce growth, display fixtures, crop planning, merchandising services, customer-facing signage and tag programs. Having moved planning to where it’s initiated — with the breeders — she’s opened the door to precise planning within each region. Furthermore, Ohmer led the launch of national plant trials for new-to-market genetics, laying the foundation for robust regional programs years ahead of the plants’ arrival at retail. Driven by trending colors, textures and patterns, she introduced an exciting seasonal program featuring plant collections that easily translate to consumers’ homes.

2021

GenNext Award Recipient ERI N WI SEC U P Category Director

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Meranda Reed

Nate Sadow

Store Leader, Kroger, Watseka, Ill., The Kroger Co.

Senior Leader, Leadership Development, The Kroger Co.

Age: 33

Age: 37

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s the inspirational leader of a high-volume location with more than 150 associates, Reed helps ensure that her store consistently ranks high on metrics such as sales, shrink, food safety and culture. The results of an annual associate insights survey showed that her store outperformed others in its division on 11 of 15 categories evaluated. Heavily invested in Kroger’s culture, Reed is involved with various associate resource groups, including Women’s EDGE and Young Professionals. She actively supports division-wide efforts in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. Reed identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and last year volunteered to be featured during Pride Month to share her personal growth story. As a high-performing leader, Reed has been a trainer and mentor to associates participating in Kroger’s Store Leader Development Program.

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ver the past year, the pandemic and social unrest have brought forward a variety of concerns and challenges for Kroger’s associates and leaders, both personally and professionally. Sadow was instrumental in helping design a variety of training tools and assets that were used to help support the company’s new ways of working and return-to-office strategy. His team developed innovative and contemporary training to support a hybrid work environment. Additionally, Sadow led a cross-functional team focusing on mental health and associate well-being, partnering with health care providers and medical professionals to provide training in support of normalizing mental health. Lastly, he led, designed and deployed an initiative to teach 20,000-plus leaders how to manage more inclusive teams.

SUCCESS CCESS BEGINS WITH STRONG RONG LEADERSHIP From concept ncept to execution, Elisha is a thought leader and is a key component in driving consumer insights hts and trends. Eli Elisha h iis an innovator, disruptor, and difference-maker not only at CELSIUS but in the community as well.

50 progressivegrocer.com NextGen_FNL.indd 1

CONGRATULATIONS to our very own,

Elisha Gil, for being honored as 2021 GenNext Award Winner!

9/24/21 2:06 PM


Craig Sanders

Brady Smallwood

Division E-Commerce Manager, The Kroger Co.

Senior Director, Strategy, Planning and Operations, Kroger E-Commerce, The Kroger Co.

Age: 33

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s a division e-commerce manager, Sanders has worked to establish and maintain a space for smaller, local companies to gain visibility and market experience through leveraging his relationships in the grocery space. His work with partners at Pick Tennessee and Kroger led local-item sales to increase by more than 700%. Sanders attends farmers’ markets and other events to identify suppliers ready for the next step in their businesses, and he also established a team of content experts to help lead change and innovation within his region. In addition, Sanders established a system of continuing education for those involved in curbside pickup. Through virtual sessions and peer-to-peer communication, he offers regular content. Sanders is a leader of change and innovation in the world of merchandise execution for Kroger.

Age: 37

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uring Smallwood’s tenure, the company has opened the first two of many automated fulfillment centers powered by Ocado, navigated multiple waves of COVID-19, piloted innovative methods to digitally serve customers and launched an ambitious strategic initiative to double e-commerce sales over a three-year period. Early on in the pandemic, it was decided to merge the brick-and-mortar and e-commerce merchandising divisions into a single omnichannel merchandising organization. Smallwood led a cross-functional team of formerly siloed brick-and-mortar and e-commerce merchandising associates to enable the new “omni merchants” to gain visibility into their end-to-end business, make holistic merchandising plans, manage a combined profit and loss, and uncover insights to improve customer outcomes.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Abigail Sturgill

Jake VanWagnen

Senior Manager, Associate Communications and Engagement, The Kroger Co.

E-commerce Business Specialist, The Kroger Co.

Age: 38

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turgill joined Kroger’s associate communications and engagement team just weeks before the pandemic began, so she had little time to acclimate before being thrown into nonstop crisis communication. With half a million associates across the country who were deemed essential workers, her team was responsible for keeping them informed during the crisis. Sturgill led all associate-facing communication during the pandemic, including a critical focus on safety and well-being. She was the primary writer and editor of the company’s now-famous “Sharing What We’ve Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses,” which provided guidance to other businesses on how to reopen safely. It was shared publicly on TheKrogerCo.com and downloaded thousands of times.

n an era with a lot of moving parts in e-commerce, VanWagnen is credited with being a lynchpin that holds it all together for Kroger. He’s a young leader who walks the walk – including walking the floors at stores all over the country – to identify areas of opportunity for e-commerce. While he thrives when on the ground and engaging with Kroger team members, he also values technology, helping to launch a new android-based picking system and other labor-saving initiatives to boost online ordering and fulfillment. Described as trustworthy, driven and an out-of-the-box thinker, VanWagnen has a large sphere of influence in his role directly affecting the e-commerce business of more than 2,000 stores and spearheading all processes and enhancements related to that part of the retailer’s operations.

Bridget Wojciak

Shaan Zaveri

Director of Nutrition, Kroger Health, The Kroger Co.

VP, Merchandising Analytics and Strategy, The Kroger Co.

Age: 31

Age: 37

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ojciak crafted an industry-leading nutrition scoring system, OptUP, allowing shoppers to easily identify the health value of foods and nudging them to choose more nutritious options in a customer-friendly user interface. Conscious of the food insecurity resulting from COVID-19, she led her team in curating and operationalizing the shipment of boxes of nourishing, shelf-stable meal essentials, funded by health insurance, to the homes of immunocompromised and food-insecure populations nationally. Wojciak worked with the digital merchandising, technology, marketing and content teams to create a digital hub for online nutrition-focused content. She also committed to a yearslong collaboration with university researchers to test how dietitian care and personalized product recommendations received at a Kroger store can affect heart health and healthy shopping behavior over time.

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reviously, Zaveri led the space, assortment and stores team at Kroger’s 84.51° division. There, he developed the initial vision for Kroger’s future space and assortment optimization capability, in which customer data is leveraged among additional factors like modality type and environment to drive assortment decisions for Kroger as it rethinks how it connects with consumers. In addition, once the pandemic hit, the work of Zaveri and his team became invaluable as the need grew for additional distanced grocery shopping options. Zaveri, along with a small team from 84.51° and Kroger, developed the concept of a Grocery Pickup Center. In under four weeks, Kroger turned this idea into a successful reality, offering customers a way to fulfill their grocery needs without ever having to enter a store.


Ronnie Archibeque

Megan Hoffmann

Director of Retail Operations, Laguna Development Corp.

Director, Human Resources, Litehouse Foods

Age: 35

Age: 37

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Travis Bernath

Michelle Hall

Store Director, Meijer, Noblesville, Ind., Meijer

SVP, Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer, Meijer

rchibeque has increased revenue and profits by introducing strong processes, control measures, an effective product mix and elite customer service in the retail business of Laguna Development Corp., a company in the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico. Archibeque has fostered a positive cultural shift internally that has reduced turnover, improved team morale and helped develop staff for career growth. He has also embraced the local tribal government’s emergency health order by adding input, training and staff monitoring to help minimize the impacts and transmission of COVID-19. Further, Archibeque has demonstrated leadership and innovation by coordinating, ordering and distributing large special orders for several local tribal communities. These special orders consisted of necessary supplies and groceries to help aid tribal members during the hard times resulting from the pandemic.

Age: 32

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ernath exemplifies Meijer’s customer focus strategy, racking up customer service scores that are first and second in his market. He accomplished these results by encouraging his staff to work as one team and cross-training all associates to respond to customer needs. During the pandemic, Bernath ensured that his store was prepared to meet rising customer demands, proactively staying ahead of product flow by contacting vendors to obtain high-demand items. He also made use of expedited hiring practices during a labor shortage, quickly hiring 100 people within a three-week period to keep his store fully staffed. What’s more, over the past few years, his store has led in supporting local food pantry programs. Bernath has accomplished all of this while facing some significant health challenges, including cancer and multiple sclerosis.

n 2018, Hoffmann started out as the senior manager of human resources at her first CPG company, but in just a short amount of time, she’s become the “employee whisperer” at Litehouse. Hoffmann worked to streamline employee performance evaluations, transitioning the company to an online system. She also implemented structural changes to ensure each of Litehouse’s four manufacturing facilities were compliant with varying state laws and consistent company-wide. When the pandemic began, she implemented another online system to keep track of company data related to COVID-19, which allowed company leadership to make more informed decisions. Hoffmann has also spearheaded hiring campaigns, increased employee engagement, added new positions, improved training and onboarding for new employees, and reduced turnover.

Age: 38

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strategic visionary, Hall can identify a business imperative, define a strategy, design a solution, and execute a plan to achieve results and effect change. For example, when COVID-19 hit, she led teams to think innovatively and respond in ways that focused on team member health, safety and respect. Hall advised against putting strict rules or guardrails in place, but rather encouraged flexibility and empowerment to get work done. She launched a successful coaching program for top talent, primarily focused on diverse candidates, to create sponsorship, advocacy and development opportunities. Hall implemented Meijer Centers of Excellence support for the Fresh Thyme banner, including the deployment of Workday, leadership development, and diversity and inclusion. She also volunteers in her local community.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Brian Pugh

Marlys Roberts

Director, Digital User Experience, Meijer

Director of Merchandising-Deli/ Bakery/Franchise, Meijer

Age: 39

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ugh is a leader within the marketing and customer strategy organization at Meijer, and his impact and leadership have delivered many innovations, customer experiences and digital capabilities. Pugh launched the mPerks loyalty program, in which capacity he led the expansion of program experiences, member acquisition and engagement to achieve 50% sales penetration. He directed the evolution of the Meijer app across six versions to support loyalty engagement, marketing communication and, most recently, the adoption of e-commerce, which has grown to more than 1 million customers. He also oversaw the relaunch of Meijer.com, focused on driving the adoption of grocery pickup and home delivery. Finally, Pugh is named as a co-inventor on seven U.S. patents spanning loyalty, digital and store experiences.

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n 2020, Roberts was an inaugural member of Meijer’s strategy team and jumped into projects and initiatives that have pushed the grocer to deliver profitable long-term growth. She developed an IT governance prioritization process that defined the structure and criteria for consistent sequencing, workload management and priority alignment across the enterprise. Roberts was also key in influencing the digital fulfillment road map that focuses on long-term strategy for all fulfillment types: in-store, micro-fulfillment center and third-party. On the merchandising side, she’s worked with merchant executives to define long-term strategies across all functional areas. Roberts also led a key initiative focused on the future of foodservice, successfully guiding the architecture, partnership and pilot deployment of a third-party food program.

Justin Sessink

Erin Walton

Director, Digital Shopping, Meijer

Director of DSD and Alcohol, Meijer

Age: 35

Age: 38

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hen Meijer was trying to firm up its grocery delivery strategy, Sessink was confident that finding a good e-commerce partner would be the best option for the company. He built confidence in his recommendation by finding a partner that fit well with Meijer’s values and culture, and initiated a pilot program. Sessink then leveraged data analytics to showcase the incremental business opportunity it generated and the extremely positive customer feedback. After sharing those benefits, Sessink was able to bring others along quickly to scale the business partnership, and it’s since become a highly successful business solution. Over his nine years of service, Sessink has been promoted twice and led or been a key member in some incredible digital innovation and transformations at Meijer.

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alton is the first woman to lead DSD and alcohol, which is the largest business within Meijer’s merchandising organization. In 2020, the business saw tremendous growth in top-line sales (up 17%) and continues to drive high household penetration for Meijer, in no small part thanks to Walton. Last year, she led an initiative to develop and launch the first Meijer Alcohol Holiday Gift Guide, a new way to drive digital engagement with customers and promote expansive holiday gifting. The guide drove an increase of 8% in new customers to the alcohol department and an incremental 13% in sales on items featured versus the rest of the department, and has resulted in subsequent seasonal guides. This year, she executed a complete alcohol department refresh both in-store and online.


Praveena Sundarraj

Delanie Beeson

Brand Manager of Innovation, Milo’s Tea Co.

Global Science and Sustainability Manager, Mission Produce

Age: 36

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undarraj implemented a product and brand development process that includes an extensive internal and external sensory process as well as the development of production, marketing and go-to-market strategy planning. She collaborated with the analytics team and implemented programs to identify market opportunities, understand consumer needs and develop target audiences. Sundarraj also worked with the procurement team to develop a co-packer qualification process and with communications to tell Milo’s ingredient-based sustainability story. She found quick solutions to navigate the pandemic, maintain Milo’s timeline, launch a successful brand and add items to the company’s product line. Further, Sundarraj created internal and external sustainability reports to help the company understand how data-first initiatives drive innovation and efficacy across Milo’s.

Age: 25

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eeson led the creation of Mission Produce’s inaugural environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) report in April, and is passionate about elevating the importance of sustainability at the leading global avocado supplier. She’s responsible for formalizing the reporting of all ESG matters, connecting with global teams to investigate, gather complex data and implement processes. Another of Beeson’s roles is to help guide and educate Mission’s leadership on the most impactful ways to do good. She has pushed the needle forward for sustainability to become a key consideration in major business decisions, and extended that philosophy to Mission’s entire supply chain. Because of the information Beeson has gathered, Mission is able to tell consumers why selecting its avocados is a good choice for people and the planet.

Matthew Ellis SVP of Business Development-Retail Analytics, NielsenIQ

Age: 34

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edia is one of the fastest-growing areas of retail, and Ellis eats, drinks and sleeps retail media. In his previous role leading the North American retail media consulting practice for dunnhumby, he leveraged his past experience in grocery and discount retailers to bring a practical and actionable perspective to retail media. He was also integral in establishing new retail media businesses by working with multiple grocery retailers across the United States and Canada. As a natural problem-solver, Ellis’ primary focus was the design and deployment of customer-led retail media networks, which resulted in the delivery of an innovative blueprint describing how to launch a new media business or make changes to existing operations. He recently joined NielsenIQ as SVP of business development-retail analytics.

CONGRATULATIONS JASMINE! Thanks for all you do every day to provide innovative solutions and expertise so our partners can focus on building great local brands. Jasmine Lamontagne Analyst, Asset Protection www.retailbusinessservices.careerswithus.com

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Aaron Johnson

Andrew Hoeft

Owner, Oasis Fresh Market

CEO, Pinpoint Software Inc.

Age: 30

Age: 29

ohnson is a difference-maker who took action this year to address a food desert situation in Tulsa, Okla. He opened the Oasis Fresh Market in an area that had been lacking fresh food for more than a decade, creating jobs for more than 40 people. It wasn’t the first time that the Tulsa native, motivational speaker and former college football player at the University of Tulsa had made a difference in his hometown: Johnson was previously executive director of the Tulsa Dream Center, a faith-based nonprofit that provides food, education and health programming for families. During the pandemic, the center fed more than 13 million meals to those in need. Johnson is also the administrative pastor of the Victory Church, in Tulsa. He’s described as a passionate, persistent powerhouse.

tarting his grocery career at 14 at Festival Foods, Hoeft founded Pinpoint Software & Date Check Pro at 18. What began as a proof of concept in Excel now helps 700-plus stores across North America track and prevent expired food. As of April 2021, Pinpoint has prevented the sale of nearly 14 million expired products, branched out to manage expiration dates on medical supplies, and collaborated with some customers to launch a second grocery solution, Taskle, a mobile task management and auditing tool. From early on, Hoeft also led his team to provide free resources to the industry via blog posts and quarterly e-books featuring new research, process guides, and collaborations with other top industry providers such as Agilence and Itasca.

Maria Palacio

Andy Butler

Founder/CEO, Progeny Coffee

Senior Director, Product Supply, Procter & Gamble

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Age: 34

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alacio started Progeny to lift coffee farmers out of poverty, having witnessed firsthand their struggle to maintain a living. When she moved to the United States and saw that coffee shops sold a cup of the beverage for more than $5, she determined to do something to help her community back home. Palacio has since built a flourishing company, overcoming various small-business obstacles in a crowded market. Progeny now provides coffee farmers with free education, as well as technical agricultural support for new techniques to improve their methods and processes. When farmers sell their coffee to Progeny, instead of relying on market prices that unfairly fluctuate, they receive a set price per score. The exponentially growing company has currently doubled the income of more than 25 farmers.

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esponsible for the end-to-end supply chain and in-stocks at national grocers, Butler worked with retailers to meet their unique needs during 2020’s demand surge, leveraging new digital tools, supply network design transformations and innovative work processes. Butler is now teaming with grocers to position the supply chain as a growth accelerator through more integrated partnerships across supply, merchandising and operations, and by ramping up innovation in P&G’s supply chain. He also leads the company’s joint efforts on equality and inclusion at his retail partners, which has led to such initiatives as the Multicultural Entrepreneurship Development program in P&G’s hometown of Cincinnati. Featuring Kroger and local business accelerator MORTAR, the program brought together 11 multicultural entrepreneurs to learn from P&G and Kroger leaders.



FEATURE

2021

Awards

Martin Sanchez

Lauren Schiavone

Director, Category Growth Analyst, Procter & Gamble

Senior Director, Innovation and Online Grocery, Procter & Gamble

Age: 31

A

strategist at his core, Sanchez created a vision to grow P&G’s business by focusing on shopper needs and involving his retailer partner in winning strategies that delivered on those needs. He leveraged shopper research, category growth targets and retailer strategies to develop plans for topand bottom-line growth. As he created his strategy for business growth, he saw the immediate application of this thinking to the whole organization, sharing how the strategy, when implemented broadly, would deliver significant results across the total company. He codified his process for using multiple databases, created a step-by-step approach to discussing it with the customer, and then created an outline to teach it to five of his fellow category development managers; this leadership enabled his team to deliver better all-around results.

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iewed as a driver of creativity and change, Schiavone leads P&G’s innovation pillar and is focused on new go-to-market capabilities, including the company’s online grocery/last-mile partners — achieving P&G’s highest sales in this area in the company’s history — and urban innovation. She also heads executive-level joint business plans with key industry partners. When a major opportunity arose to upskill the entire organization in omni/digital commerce, Schiavone took it upon herself to create an employee capability plan focused on this area, creating monthly training seminars and becoming personally involved in P&G’s largest customer opportunities. She also led the Culture Team, resulting in the company’s best-ever employee results, despite some challenging work environments because of COVID. What’s more, Schiavone is a mentor to numerous future leaders.

Jasmine LaMontagne

Julia Tiede

Asset Protection Analyst, Retail Business Services

Center Store Manager, River Market Community Co-op

Age: 26

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aMontagne has proved her ability to manage a large volume of work while completing such career development initiatives as earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She’s currently in a loss prevention certification course, for which she’ll take the exam in the coming months. Further, in summer 2020, LaMontagne expressed her goal to expand her career path and lead in a new role as an investigations specialist, which requires a rigorous training process. She has remained focused on this goal with the utmost determination, efficiently balancing her current job as an analyst while pursuing this professional opportunity. Additionally, out of care for her colleagues and the organization, LaMontagne took on the responsibility of fun committee chair to increase associate engagement and improve the overall experience of employees at Retail Business Services.

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Age: 36

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Age: 30

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rought in to manage River Market Community Co-op’s center store, where day-to-day operations were running decently, but systems and long-range planning needed to be created and implemented, Tiede hit the ground running, maintaining vital operations while developing systems for even greater efficiency and simultaneously managing future planning. By using data and a scientific approach, she moved out slower items and replaced them with more compelling, desirable options. Not afraid to take a chance on a new product or to implement needed change, Tiede was able to achieve financial results as impressive as her performance: a 3.7% increase in gross profit in the center store. She also worked to cultivate arguably the strongest culture of any department in the store, with depth, low turnover and excellent morale.


OUR HOTTEST INNOVATIONS are found in the Coolest Places!


FEATURE

2021

Awards

Michael Ryzewic

Haley Sammis

Co-Founder and CIO, Rosie

Head of Account Management, Rosie

Age: 38

Age: 27

S

R

Megan Kreutzman

Adrian Salazar

Division Manager, Schnuck Markets

Senior Manager, Store Operations Support, Schnuck Markets

ince grocery e-commerce provider Rosie began in 2013, Ryzewic has grown a two-person team to 80-plus employees overseeing four key departments, with 28 staffers responsible for the technology supporting hundreds of stores and thousands of shoppers nationwide. Not only has he built a company in a highly competitive space, but he also led efforts to secure $10 billion in Series A funding that enabled faster iteration of feature building in regard to digital merchandising; the functionality of Cater, a platform to place online orders for catered food; and SNAP online. The company that he helped found has forever changed the lives of local grocers, their shoppers and those who work under his guidance. Ryzewic also leads efforts to make Rosie’s data accessible to benefit the company and its customers.

Age: 38

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n innovative mindset applied to complex challenges helped Kreutzman advance from store manager and other key roles at Schnucks to her current position as a senior leader overseeing an entire division. Her business acumen and ability to think strategically and operationally has contributed to positive financial performance. Some of her work includes improving customer engagement among store teams, creating a Google-based tool kit for in-store leaders, and building a training team and programs that balanced hard and soft skills. Those skills were useful when Schnucks acquired several new store locations and Kreutzman was involved in onboarding new leaders with varied backgrounds. She also helped develop, staff and run a COVID-19 resource line for teammates, all while raising a family, pursuing a master’s degree and contributing to the community.

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osie’s youngest senior leader, Sammis, — the company’s sixth employee — spearheads the national expansion of its retailer partnerships to hundreds of stores in more than 40 states. In the past year, Sammis has created different strategies focused on training retailers and building their knowledge of how they can improve their e-commerce businesses. She has led various monthly Fireside Chats on topics that help retailers find success with their online programs. Recently, Sammis started a new program, Rosie Retailer & Product Roadshows, to help bring the company’s technology team closer to retailers. This initiative has been instrumental in communicating the new features that Rosie is building and how they will affect retailers’ businesses.

Age: 34

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alazar has led several new initiatives and worked in various areas of the business over the past three years, continually leveraging data and analytics to create new tools for the business. He has developed numerous dashboards/ reporting using data and analytics that output operational KPI reporting that can be employed down to the individual store and roll up to be as broad as the total company. Salazar is certified in Alteryx, a data science and analytics software that he leverages to create innovations in reporting for operational execution and excellence. His transformation of data and development into actionable initiatives was instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic. Salazar also led the transition to a secondary supplier, and is currently heading a company-wide standardization and simplification initiative.


Rachel Steele

Jena Good

VP of Supply Chain, Schnuck Markets

General Manager, Shelton’s Grocery/ Walters Hometown Grocery

Age: 39

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teele is responsible for the efficient, safe and timely distribution of products from suppliers to warehouses to stores, but also oversees center store buying, inbound and outbound transportation, fleet maintenance, warehouse management, and vendor compliance. It’s a big job, and she oversees a 500-person team. Steele’s job was especially demanding during the pandemic, when supply chain disruptions required quick action. She led the cross-departmental team that included merchants and operators that found alternative suppliers and products, adjusted merchandise flows, procured alternative carriers, and hired 100 outside personnel from all over the country to staff warehouses. These accomplishments are even more impressive considering that just four years earlier, Steele left Schnucks’ legal department for a supply chain career.

Age: 31

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ood is a third-generation grocer focused on serving the Oklahoma communities in which her family’s two stores are located while also acting as an advocate for independent grocers. She took those efforts to a new level during the past year while in charge of community outreach in her area’s Shop Local programs, participating in Family Meals month and through social media projects, including the debut of her own blog at www.thegrocerygal.blog. Good’s leadership is also evident through her participation in FMI’s Day at the Capitol and in virtual meetings with state representatives and the Oklahoma Grocers Association. The Grocery Gal blog provides an outlet for Good’s passion for the industry, and is a place where she bridges the gap between grocery retailer knowledge and the consumer.

Ryan Simmons

Karen Ho

Director of E-Commerce, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc.

Co-Founder, VP, Mobile Client Engineering, Swiftly Systems

Age: 31

Age: 34

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fter joining ShopRite Supermarkets in 2006 as a cashier, Simmons was steadily promoted before finding his current role in 2014 as head of ShopRite’s digital strategy. He has since improved customers’ omnichannel experience by driving operational efficiency through innovation. Simmons sought out and implemented new technology such as Kardex, a space-savvy grocery automation storage system. He has also made tremendous progress on overall productivity and efficiencies in the stores’ 28 ShopRite From Home departments, decreasing order selection time by 30 minutes to help e-commerce sales more than double in five years, with more than 30 million items now delivered annually. At the same time, Simmons continuously enhanced the customer experience through new technology and process improvements.

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o worked her way up through the engineering and technology industry to co-found the startup Swiftly Systems, a digital platform to help retailers grow sales and build loyalty while enabling brands to reach shoppers through retail media networks. She leads a team of engineers at the Seattle-based company to make Swiftly an increasingly sleek, elegant and functional retail solution. One of Ho’s greatest accomplishments is building a team of 14 developers with iOS and Android experience that exceeds her own to continue advancing Swiftly’s capabilities. In addition to building a successful startup, she has taught programming at the Hackbright Academy, an engineering school designed to help women achieve careers in technology, and shared how she’s been able to overcome obstacles in the technology world.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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FEATURE

2021

Awards

Aaron Payne

David Berube

Director of Advertising, Tops Markets LLC

Digital Product Manager, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI)

Age: 38

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Adam Sinley

Meghan Shookman

Director, Product Development, Quality Assurance, Regulatory, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI)

Senior Director of Innovation, Vital Farms

Age: 38

s Vital Farms first hire dedicated to product innovation, Shookman tackles big challenges and thrives in ambiguous situations. She leads the identification of consumer needs and opportunities in the marketplace to scale Vital Farms beyond its shell egg business as the company looks to become a leader in ethical food. Shookman headed a team to bring Egg Bites, Vital Farms’ first ready-to-eat product, to market in August 2020, and most recently launched Breakfast Bars, a firstto-market egg-based refrigerated snack bar line inspired by traditional comfort-food dishes. In just six weeks, she managed an R&D team in a design sprint from concept to prototype, with consumer validation and a successful sell-in to Whole Foods Market nationally, all while navigating ingredient challenges and supply chain disruptions.

mid pandemic-induced supply chain challenges, which complicated promotional efforts for all retailers, Payne demonstrated agility and perseverance to overcome these unprecedented circumstances. He led brainstorming and best-practice learning sessions on key seasonal opportunities, which were in-person as well as internet-based, with more than 25 key marketing and advertising colleagues. Another major project involved Payne leading the creation of an innovative and compelling campaign, Smile for Summer, which brought together a number of key company initiatives and reinforced to customers why they should feel good about their shopping choices. Another of Payne’s accomplishments involved Tops being the first retail partner in the country to move onto the Starbucks Connect mobile platform at a new café location inside its store in Hamburg, N.Y.

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inley leads a team responsible for a portfolio of private brands that encompasses 5,000 SKUs, including 100 new item launches annually, across 18 brands. He is regarded as a strategic thinker who has created a culture of innovation and trust, especially when it comes to regulatory compliance. Sinley works with team members to champion risk mitigation, balancing regulatory and business threats, including extensive partnership with suppliers regarding foreign supplier verification programs, co-packer support and customer communications. He successfully led work with TraceONE to improve the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) and the integrity of information. By communicating and listening effectively, Sinley inspires creative thinking, and grows talent at UNFI.

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Age: 39

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erger integrations are always challenging, but after UNFI joined forces with Supervalu, Berube brought together several teams and quickly aligned them around the concept of customer-centricity and user experience. That required agile new ways of working and a focus away from the established methods of creating digital applications through typical business requirements, to an IT provider partnering with the business to focus on working collaboratively on customer problems. Berube’s team was able to do rapid prototyping that led to consistently delivering value directly to customers through frequent application updates. Through prototyping with UNFI customers, the process of iterating to deliver better solutions is happening faster than ever. The result for UNFI customers is improved efficiencies, thanks to modern digital applications that are faster and smarter.

Age: 38

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Brandon Hill

Lauren Biondi

CEO, Vori

Manager of Social Media, Wakefern Food Corp.

Age: 28

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ill and two others co-founded Vori with the goal of bringing advanced technological capabilities to the operations of independent retailers, food distributors and suppliers. His parents spent more than 40 years in the CPG industry, which gave Hill a unique perspective on the industry’s operational challenges, including replenishment ordering. He helped develop a solution designed to replace error-prone manual processes with automation that allows for the simultaneous placement of multiple orders with multiple suppliers. Beyond upgrading the ordering process, Vori is tackling other longstanding challenges such as digital invoicing, receiving, payments and order tracking. Under Hill’s leadership, Vori has grown to more than 17 employees.

Age: 33

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he reach of Wakefern’s marketing programs has increased exponentially under the leadership of Biondi, enabling the grocer to attract a new, younger customer to the ShopRite brand. As manager of social media, Biondi led development of a robust program that allowed Wakefern’s individual operators to communicate and engage with their local customers at the store level. She also spearheaded partnerships with influencers and content creators that helped ShopRite achieve the No. 1 branded content video on Facebook multiple times. During the the pandemic, Biondi played a key role, leading the team leveraging Wakefern’s social media platforms to quickly inform customers of changes in hours, policies, safety procedures and product availability.

Lee Jeyes Head of Corporate Innovation, Walmart Canada

Age: 31

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eyes joined Walmart Canada eight years ago as a store co-manager, and following a series of promotions, he joined the store innovation team in 2019. Over the past two years, Jeyes drove roughly $5 billion in business value for Walmart Canada, taking into account sales growth and savings. Prior to his innovation role, he was part of the group that supported the launch of Walmart’s online grocery business in Canada. Jeyes has since been involved in building training material and rolling out new tools to create efficiencies within the process at store level. His accomplishments are not only about generating total business value for Walmart Canada, but also about looking at how the end-to-end process will affect store associates and the customer experience. Jeyes was promoted to his current role as head of innovation in June of this year.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH

What Shoppers Want Now

THE NEW AGE OF ELEVATED EXPECTATIONS Shopper behaviors are evolving rapidly and challenging grocers to understand an expanding range of influences shaping grocery’s future. By Mike Troy

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ife used to be simpler for shoppers when it came to deciding where to buy groceries. If a store was clean and convenient, had helpful staff, and had good prices on quality products, that was a combination that satisfied most shoppers. It still does at a basic level, but the fundamental value proposition with which so many grocers found success has been joined by a wide range of other attributes that create new opportunities and challenges for grocers to connect with tomorrow’s shoppers. This is due to expanded operational capabilities that retailers now execute against, and all of the complexities that entails, combined with new complexities related to fast-changing rules of what it means to be a good corporate citizen. As a result, shoppers have more reasons to like — or dislike — a particular retailer, and they have more choices of retailers that now appeal to shoppers with narrowly defined attribute sets. Welcome to “The New Age of Elevated Expectations,” a phrase which describes an intensifying new reality for retailers of food and consumables, and the title of an exclusive shopper journey study from Progressive Grocer. This unique research project was developed and executed by the Research Solutions division of EnsembleIQ, PG’s parent company, with support from Inmar Intelligence. While this new age of elevated expectations is complex, the premise of the research is simple: to bring greater clarity to the behaviors and expectations of more than 75 million younger, digitally native shoppers poised to have a huge impact on the grocery industry as they enter their prime spending and consumption years. Accordingly, key areas explored include: Key drivers of behavior, and shoppers’ expectations for seamless, safe and connected shopping experiences Frictionless preferences in stores and online Price and product ingredient transparency Product assortment and fulfillment expectations Communication preferences and social media usage

Here’s what we learned about what shoppers want now: 64

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Understanding Next-Generation Shopping Behaviors How insights were gathered The key learnings contained in Progressive Grocer’s 2021 “The New Age of Elevated Expectations” study are based on 1,002 responses gathered July 20-26, 2021, from those ages 18 to 34, with primary or shared responsibility for food purchases. The responses were evenly split between Gen Z (ages 18-24) and Millennials (ages 25-34). The logic behind probing the views of these groups is that they are either entering or in their most formative years of household creation, a life stage which correlates closely with increased spending. Thus, understanding this group’s food-related shopping behaviors, eating preferences and key factors influencing spending is crucial to grocers’ future success.


UNDERWRITTEN BY

The Basics Still Matter Shopper expectations are increasing and becoming more expansive. That reality is facilitated by technology, changing demographics, unprecedented access to information and shifting views of the role of business. As shoppers continue to drive change at an accelerating pace through new types of behaviors and product preferences, retailers face new and unprecedented types of challenges. They must satisfy customers who have never been more demanding and will never be less demanding again. However, some of what they’re demanding falls into familiar areas.

Taste, Affordability and Quality Matter Most When deciding which food to purchase, which of the following do you typically consider? (Multiple responses allowed)

Gen Z

Millennials

The food tastes good

69%

70%

Food is affordable

68%

67%

Products are high quality

42%

52%

Ingredients are clearly labeled

39%

39%

Product contains clean ingredients

35%

37%

Products/ingredients are sustainably sourced

26%

27%

Products are ethically sourced

25%

25%

5%

3%

None of the above

How Younger Shoppers Satisfy Their Hunger During a typical week, when you’re hungry, and the responsibility of getting or preparing food is on you, which of the following do you tend to do? (Multiple responses allowed)

At Home Is Still Hot, but Takeout and Delivery Loom Large

Younger shoppers still enjoy the physical store experience and the sense of discovery that comes from exploring curated assortments of attractively merchandised and promoted products. A respectable 37% of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers even confess that shopping for food in stores is an activity that they look forward to. However, a troubling number of other shoppers expressed the opposite sentiment, which is particularly concerning if large numbers of shoppers entering their prime spending years decide to shun physical spaces.

Millennials

Find something in my home to make/eat

70%

77%

Order for pickup/takeout

39%

43%

Order something for delivery

35%

36%

Go out to find something that is ready to eat

33%

34%

Go out to a restaurant where I can sit down to eat

28%

26%

Shoppers have a lot of options to satisfy their hunger. Throughout the pandemic, grocers saw wild swings in behaviors among food at home, food away from home and everything in between. Younger shoppers also learned the value of at-home meal preparation, a behavior that appears to be sticky.

Tough Times Ahead for Stores?

Gen Z

of young shoppers find value in shopping for food inside the store.

How Younger Shoppers Feel About In-Store Food Shopping When shopping for food inside a store, which, if any, of the following are true for you? (Multiple responses allowed)

Gen Z

Millennials

A great way to discover new or interesting products

54%

54%

An enjoyable experience

44%

42%

An activity I look forward to

37%

37%

Something I try to avoid doing

18%

21%

Something I will do less of in the future

13%

15%

Something old people do, but young people don’t

11%

12%

A waste of time

9%

9%

None of the above

7%

8%

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH

What Shoppers Want Now

Payment Preferences Are Changing as a Frictionless Future Looms Shoppers’ elevated expectations of retailers take many forms, but a key area relates to convenience and method of payment. Of note, cash remains the second most frequently used payment method among shoppers who are digital natives, but a large segment of young shoppers indicate that they expect a fully frictionless experience.

Which of the following payment methods do you use when making all types of food purchases? (Multiple responses allowed)

Gen Z

Millennials

79% 71% 60%

57%

35% 35% 25% 17%

Credit/ debit card

Cash

Mobile payment

EBT/SNAP

16%

20%

Digital wallet


UNDERWRITTEN BY

When I shop inside a store or restaurant, I want to be able to walk out without checking out and have my payment automatically deducted from my account. Gen Z

Millennials

35% 26% 15% 17%

Do not agree at all

13%

19%

16%

Somewhat disagree

22% 15%

Agree

Somewhat agree

19%

Strongly agree


EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH

What Shoppers Want Now Social Media Rules, but TV Is Effective, Too Within the past month, in which, if any, of the following ways have you seen information about a food retail store or restaurant? (Multiple responses allowed)

How Younger Shoppers Stay Informed Food retailers and foodservice operators vying for mindshare with younger shoppers should already know that mobile and social media are the way to go. However, there are some notable differences between where Gen Z and Millennials recall seeing information about grocers and restaurants, the social media platforms that dominate their usage, and their desired communication preferences.

Total

Gen Z

Millennials

Social media

61%

62%

60%

Television ad

42%

39%

45%

Mobile app advertisement

35%

36%

35%

Ad on another website

27%

28%

27%

Email from retail store

25%

22%

29%

Billboard

18% 20%

15%

Radio ad

17%

19%

Magazine

13% 13%

16%

14%

Where Gen Z and Millennials Spend the Most Time Which of the following social media platforms do you use regularly (at least once per week)? (Multiple responses allowed)

Total

Gen Z

Millennials

YouTube

71% 73%

Facebook

63% 54%

72%

Instagram

61% 68%

55%

Snapchat

48% 58%

38%

TikTok

46% 60%

32%

Twitter

29% 31%

28%

Pinterest

25% 28%

23%

Reddit

14% 13%

14%

Discord

12% 16%

9%

WhatsApp

12% 10%

15%

LinkedIn

8% 4%

69%

13%

Speaking the Language of Tomorrow’s Shoppers In which of the following ways do you prefer food retail stores and restaurants to communicate with you? (Multiple responses allowed)

Gen Z

Millennials

Only 51% 48%

of younger shoppers don't want communications from food retailers and restaurants. 68

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52% 40%

34%

28% 15% 18%

15% 13%

Total

49%

46%

31%

17%

14%

Social media

Email

Text message

Physical mail

Prefer none


UNDERWRITTEN BY

Acting on Information in the Age of Influence Information travels fast in the digital world, which requires vigilance on the part of retailers to be aware of conversations about their companies and to engage in dialogue when appropriate. The consequences of failing to do so can be profoundly negative or potentially positive, according to responses from those surveyed.

have stopped buying from companies they have seen negative information about in the past year.

The Power of Perceptions to Sway Sales In the past year, have you stopped buying from companies you read or heard negative information about? 15%

50%

Not sure

Yes

Gen Z

Yes

Millennials

39%

35%

No

No

In the past year, did something you saw or read about a company cause you to spend more with that company? 11%

13%

Not sure

Not sure

47%

41% Yes

Yes

What They Care About Most When younger shoppers are making decisions about where to buy food, be it a grocery store or a restaurant, a broad set of attributes factor into their decision-making. There are the obvious things, like convenience, price, quality and service levels, but in a hypothetical world where those things are all equal, other interesting variables come into play.

11%

50%

Not sure

Gen Z

Millennials

48%

40%

No

No

Win With Shoppers by Winning with Workers Which of the following characteristics of a food retail store or restaurant are the most important in influencing your decision? (Respondents could select up to three choices)

Gen Z

Millennials

37%

42%

Gives back to the local community

25%

26%

Has a diversity, equity and inclusion program

25%

21%

Respects and treats its employees fairly

Provides info about where its products come from

24%

24%

Environmentally conscious

23%

22%

Buys from local food suppliers

20%

25%

Stands up for social justice causes

18%

16%

Supports charities and causes unrelated to its business 18%

17%

Actively develops its employees

16%

16%

Agrees with me politically

13%

12%

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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SUSTAINABILITY

Responsible Sourcing

The Next Frontier AS RESPONSIBLE SOURCING BECOMES MORE COMMON AMONG GROCERS, WHAT’S COMING UP IN THIS SPACE FOR THEM TO BE AWARE OF? By Bridget Goldschmidt

ver the past few years, responsible sourcing has moved from a choice that food retailers made in accordance with their values to an imperative for specialty and mainstream grocers alike, as customers increasingly demand transparency in the supply chain with regard to eco-friendly and non-exploitative practices. As such, grocers are not only adopting responsible-sourcing policies in greater numbers, but also making sure their customers know about them and keeping an eye on emerging issues in this arena. “Food retailers’ ability to source abundant food depends on healthy soil and water, a stable climate and diverse ecosystems,” notes Kendra Klein, senior staff scientist at Washington, D.C.-based Friends of the Earth U.S., whose latest Bee-Friendly Retailer Scorecard, ranking 25 of the largest U.S. grocery retailers on pesticides and pollinator protection in their food and beverage supply chains, features Giant Eagle, Whole Foods Market and Walmart in the top three spots. “All of these are under threat due to increasing environmental damage. Independent scientists have named the intertwined biodiversity and climate crises as the two biggest existential threats facing our planet.” According to Klein: “Food retailers have the market power to make massive changes in our food system.” In 2020, the combined sales of the top 100 retailers of food and consumables increased 11.6% to $2.1 trillion, compared with $1.9 trillion last year, according to The PG 100, an annual ranking from Progressive Grocer.

Key Takeaways Grocers are not only adopting responsible-sourcing policies in greater numbers, but also making sure that their customers know about them and keeping an eye on emerging issues in this arena. Responsible sourcing includes not just procuring products that are produced by environmentally friendly methods, but that also guarantee workers are treated fairly. Emerging responsible-sourcing issues include regenerative agriculture, upcycled foods, and the reduction of pesticides in products, requiring retailers to continue evolving their policies.

“Food retailers have a critical responsibility to both consumers and the animals raised within their supply chain,” asserts David Coman-Hidy, president of The Humane League, a Rockville, Md.-based group that’s part of a coalition of animal welfare organizations behind the Better Chicken Commitment regarding humane chicken-handling practices, which has already been adopted by more than 200 major food companies, including Whole Foods, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Sprouts Farmers Market and Giant Eagle. “Consumers should be able to trust that the food products they purchase from grocery stores and other retailers are sourced in an ethical, humane and sustainable way. There are currently no federal laws in place to protect farm animals when residing on factory farms.” Continues Coman-Hidy: “Recent [research from the ASPCA has] shown that the vast majority of consumers are

Grocers like Imperfect Foods are responding to rising consumer demand for greater transparency regarding the origins of the foods they buy, including produce.

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most popular seafood Wild Seafood Alaska Seafood Alaska Salmon

AlaskaSeafood.org


SUSTAINABILITY

Responsible Sourcing Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Sprouts and Giant Eagle are among the food retailers that have signed on to the Better Chicken Commitment.

Trade Month in October, helping the Oakland, Calif.-based organization promote private label fair trade coffee by donating bags of Simply Nature Organic Single Origin Coffee from Honduras to share with consumers. Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers sells only 100% organic produce, 100% nonGMO bulk foods, 100% pasture-based dairy, 100% free-range eggs, and 100% humanely and conscientiously raised meats, all of which are also raised without antibiotics, hormones and other growth promoters. “Our standards are built around asking questions and setting high minimum standards, which differentiates us from all concerned about the welfare of animals raised for food. Consumers other retailers who usually only tout their highest-qualare also paying more attention than ever to food labels that indicate ity products but do not tell customers about all the how those animals were raised.” lower-quality items on the shelf,” observes Christie Zimmerman, Natural Grocers’ product standards manager, food. “We ask questions and demand transparency and Retailer Efforts Earlier this year, German deep-discount retailer Aldi revealed a new honesty in labeling. Questions about seeds, soil, feed for sustainability charter built upon its existing framework of corporate animals; how crops are raised; what are the unintended responsibility initiatives. “This charter outlines our updated commitconsequences of how something is created; what is the ment to promoting human rights, supply chain transparency, and environmental impact on the land, water, wildlife; are ensuring products are produced in a way that respects the environpeople negatively affected by the industry producing the ment and those within our supply chain,” explains Joan Kavanaugh, product; is the packaging or distribution detrimental — VP of national buying at Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. the list goes on. Our Things We Won’t Carry and Why Under the charter, Aldi committed to source list has been in place since the 1990s and 100% of its exclusive-brand fresh, frozen and transparently tells customers the ingrediWords have canned seafood from responsible fisheries and ents not allowed on our shelves.” farms, a goal it met in 2019; to have 100% of its To make sure that Natural Grocers meanings, and exclusive-brand chocolate and seasonal confeccustomers are aware of these standards, it’s our job to hold vendors tionery items certified as sustainably sourced by the company undertakes “monthly good4u responsible to actually third-party suppliers, with select baking products crew trainings for employees so they meet the definition of like baking cocoa and morsels now also certified continually receive up-to-date nutrition as sustainably sourced (completed this year); education and can answer customer those words.” and to add more certified coffee to its product questions effectively,” notes Zimmerman —Christie Zimmerman, portfolio, with all Barissimo and Simply Nature “We utilize social media marketing, and we Natural Grocers brand coffee to be 100% certified as sustainably film short documentaries like ‘Ghosts of the sourced by a third-party partner by 2022. Great Plains,’ which was nominated for a The retailer cares about more than the welfare of the planet, regional Heartland Emmy in 2020, in addition to providing however: Aldi partners with fair-trade certifying organizations like free science-based nutrition classes in stores and online, Fairtrade America, Fair Trade USA and Rainforest Alliance to ensure as well as free health coaching, cooking demos and products like coffee and cocoa are produced in a sustainable way. more. Events like our Beauty and Body Care Bonanza “Certified fair-trade products receive a seal from these orgaevent, Organic Harvest Month, [and] Non-GMO Month all nizations once they are confirmed to meet their standards,” says highlight our standards by drawing specific attention to Kavanaugh. “The seals are displayed on product packaging, making various standards throughout the year and how customthem easy for consumers to identify as they do their grocery shopping. ers can make informed purchases. ... All of these avenues When customers buy certified fair-trade products from Aldi, they can help customers understand our standards, so they are be assured they were created in a manner that protects the environempowered to make an ethical shopping decision that ment and supports farmers’ livelihoods.” aligns with their personal values.” The company is also supporting Fair Trade USA’s Just One Cup The grocer’s work in this regard “sparks fierce campaign this year to raise awareness of sustainable coffee during Fair loyalty” among shoppers, she asserts, attributing this

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response to “our high-level standards.” For San Francisco-based e-grocer Imperfect Foods, reducing food waste is the main goal. “‘Save food whenever we can’ has been core to the Imperfect Foods mission since its inception,” affirms Madeline Rotman, the company’s head of sustainability. Getting that message across involves full disclosure of what shoppers are getting in their boxed orders. “We tell our customers the imperfection of each item, whether it was too big or too small,” says Rotman. “This is the No. 1 way that we can communicate to our customers when we can save food. For staple items that we always have, like proteins, we share with our customers that our eggs are cage-free, our chicken is always antibiotic-free, and we offer grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork.” Imperfect Foods also recently launched a campaign with culinary celebrity Padma Lakshmi, “Behind the Box,” consisting of a video in which Lakshmi explores the e-retailer’s process, explaining how it works directly with farmers and producers to reduce food waste by bringing “ugly” and surplus groceries to consumers across the country. The Humane League’s Coman-Hidy also has some advice for retailers seeking to promote their responsible-sourcing policies. “When an animal welfare commitment is made by retailers and other food companies, their detailed policy should be publicly listed on their website so that consumers can have a strong understanding of where their food is sourced from and the improvements the company is working towards,” he recommends, adding, “With any animal welfare standard, an important next step after putting a policy in place is to report progress toward the end goal. Companies can do so by annually reporting what percentage of their egg, pork or chicken supply meets the responsible-sourcing standards they’ve set.” Imperfect Foods informs customers exactly what they're getting in their boxed orders from the e-grocer of "ugly" and surplus groceries.

That way, he says, “consumers can make informed decisions regarding their food and lifestyle choices.”

Even More Responsible

What should retailers be aware of on the responsible-sourcing horizon? A number of items, it turns out. “Regenerative products,” asserts Zimmerman without hesitation. “We are already seeing them, and we are spending considerable time developing a holistic definition of what regenerative agriculture means to Natural Grocers. The term ‘sustainability’ is still meaningful, but so many brands green-washed with that as a label claim, when they were not really doing the hard work. We pushed back on vendors who did that then, and we are doing so now to hold brands accountable. We vet any ‘regenerative’ label claims carefully so that the same thing doesn’t happen. Words have meanings, and it’s our job to hold vendors responsible to actually meet the definition of those words. Regenerative agriculture is a wonderful and powerful movement that has the ability to positively affect the industry in a great way, and we’re doing our part to ensure that it doesn’t simply become a marketing term a brand throws on their new products.” “Upcycling!” enthuses Rotman. “Finding food that is a byproduct of production or an end/bit and saving it through upcycling allows delicious foods to live on the shelf that you may not realize help save food from waste.” As an example of this, Imperfect Foods offers upcycled vanilla cookies, containing flour made from oat milk production. Friends of the Earth U.S.’ Klein points to new research from Proagrica, a global provider of technology solutions for the agriculture and animal health industries, showing that 37% of Americans think that decreasing the use of pesticides is the top issue in the agricultural sector, and and 68% of Americans are now eating more organic food. Similarly, according to recent polling by YouGov commissioned by Friends of the Earth, 83% of Americans believe that it’s important to eliminate pesticides that are harmful to pollinators from agriculture, and 74% believe that grocery stores should back efforts to protect pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. “Eighty-one percent want their food to be free of pesticide residues, and 67% feel it is important that the grocery store they shop at sells organic food,” observes Klein, implying that more grocers should adopt and publicize policies on pesticides to assuage shoppers’ concerns. With these new areas of focus arising, it’s clear that grocers need to keep evolving their responsible-sourcing strategies, or get left behind by consumers who will take their business elsewhere. “Certified products will continue to become the norm within the grocery industry as shoppers grow increasingly aware of how their favorite products are brought to store shelves,” predicts Aldi’s Kavanaugh. “We have already seen the customer demand for transparency from retailers about how food was grown, caught or raised to ensure it has been responsibly sourced, and we expect that demand to continue to grow.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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COVER STORY

Target


A FLAIR FOR FO D Target’s new strategy is all about bringing “Tar-zhay” cachet to its grocery aisles.

I

By Gina Acosta

f you’re wondering how Target has managed to increase sales, market share and profits this year while most other food retailers are still lapping last year’s pandemic-fueled gains, the answer is easy — just four words, in fact: “We are unapologetically Target.” That’s how EVP and Chief Food and Beverage Officer Rick Gomez describes his company’s successful approach to retailing, and to food retailing in particular. “We’re growing our business and generating guest love in food and beverage by leaning into the strengths that differentiate us,” Gomez says, “and that has made us one of America’s strongest retailers over the last five years.”

PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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ger slice of cheese sales? Progressive Grocer spoke with Heather Engwall, Vice President of Marketing for Emmi Roth, to learn more about current trends and how stores can tap them to build the case for specialty cheese. Progressive Grocer: Why is it important for stores to stay updated on cheese trends? Is that the first step in what Emmi Roth calls “shelf care?” Heather Engwall: Offering the kind of specialty cheese consumers need and want is a key step in getting them to shop your store. Seventy-nine percent of consumers say the specialty cheese case is important to them. In addition, 66 percent say it has a major impact on their overall perception of store quality, and 25 percent say they won’t shop at a store if it doesn’t carry premium cheeses.* So,

• Create visual interest with height using props or wheels of cheese. • Consumers shop first on variety, so make sure you have varieties that meet top potential uses: as an ingredient in a main dish, on a cheeseboard, in a salad, on its own, and paired with fruit/jam/olives. • Form influences how cheese is used — so display multiple options. What works as an ingredient? As part of a cheeseboard? As a healthy snack? • Cross-merchandise in the case with jams, crackers, olives, cheese knives, cheese boards, wine and beer. • Offer samples to promote new and trending items.

stores is instrumental to the “shelf care” journey.

• Include signage with Origin, descriptions, pairing ideas.

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• Organize by cheese family, then by region.

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• Organize cheese from mild to sharp/pungent.

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• Put the most common cheeses at the far end of the case so shoppers see all cheeses as they make their way to the regular varieties.

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crackers

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profile and suggested use.* They can also use specialty cheese to cross-promote with other items and increase basket size overall. Eighty-seven percent of consumers have purchased at least one

*Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, Consumer Insights: Impact of Premium Cheese in Grocery, June 2018 **Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Consumer Decision Tree: Specialty & Non Specialty Cheese Categories, May 2017

item to go with their premium cheese, and the average number of items co-purchased with premium cheese is 3.4.* Those add-on items can really boost the bottom line, making cross-merchandising such a successful strategy.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TAKING CARE OF YOUR SHELF AND “GLOWING UP” THE CHEESE CASE TO CAPTURE MORE SALES, VISIT emmiroth.com/shelfcare.


COVER STORY

Target

Target’s fresh grocery assortment in its larger stores is comparable to the assortments in traditional supermarkets. In addition, remodeled stores feature updated lighting, a warmer wood grain design, an expanded assortment of perishables, innovative meal solutions, and thousands of fresh food SKUs available for delivery, pickup and in-store shopping.

Target’s value proposition “We have an of offering on-trend brands outstanding food and products at affordable prices has always worked very scientist and recipe well in its nonfood categories. development team, The Minneapolis-based retailas well as packaging, er has such a cult following, marketing and especially among Gen Z and Millennials, that some fans sell sourcing teams,” shirts (in the retailer’s signaGomez said. “And ture bright-red color) on Etsy when these products emblazoned with the words “Trips and Sips” (i.e., Target launch, they are to me, trips, and sips at the retailer's the epitome of Starbucks cafes). Now the Tar-zhay. They're company is focused on applydelicious, they're on ing the same kind of exclusivity, cool factor, and value to its trend, and they're grocery assortment as it looks incredibly affordable.” to become even more of a one—Rick Gomez, EVP and stop shop for trippers and sipChief Food and Beverage Officer, Target pers of every generation. To that end, the retailer is making significant investments in its food and beverage business, specifically in fresh produce, meats and impressive private-brand — Target calls them “owned-brand” — assortments. As the company spends $4 billion annually to 78

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open dozens of new stores and remodel hundreds of older ones, fresh departments now feature updated lighting, a warmer wood grain design, an expanded assortment of perishables, innovative meal solutions such as meal kits and grab-and-go, and thousands of fresh food SKUs available for delivery or pickup. Meanwhile the retailer’s new grocery brands, including Good & Gather, have become so popular that YouTubers are raving about items such as



COVER STORY

Target

This spring, Target expanded its same-day service assortment to include adult beverage items at more than 1,200 of its stores across the country.

Garlic and Olive Oil Quinoa online. So how is Target putting the “Tar-zhay” in grocery? In an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer, Gomez details how Target is leveraging its unique flair for grocery by curating an assortment that celebrates food, hiring team members who are experts in food and beverage, creating a TikTok-viral owned-brand portfolio, and meeting the customer wherever they want to be met, whether that’s online, in store or even in the parking lot. “Our food and beverage business has been doing phenomenally well,” Gomez asserts. “It’s really important to understand that we’re not just a grocer. Food and beverage represents about a fifth of our sales, and that enables us to create a onestop-shop destination for our guests.”

A 'Sustainable Business Model'

In the past, CEO Brian Cornell has talked about what he calls Target's sustainable business model in earnings calls, but the momentum for the company at this time in history cannot be overstated. In 2020, the company grew its sales by more than $15 billion, which was greater than its growth during the prior 11 years. Target gained market share across its five core merchandising categories of apparel, home, food and beverage, electronics, and hardlines. Specifically, food and beverage grew from 19% in 2019 to 20% of the retailer’s sales in 2020. (The percentage is 46% if one includes beauty, personal care and other “household essential” category sales). All of this is pandemic-related, of course, but the growth has continued this year. When the company reported second-quarter earnings in August, food and beverage had delivered Despite impressive remodels of its beauty departments (at right), Target plans to open Ulta Beauty shops in as many as 800 locations over the next few years.

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double-digit growth, led by double-digit increases in fresh categories, benefiting from an expansion of the number of items available for Target’s pickup service, Drive Up (more on that later). In fiscal 2021, at the midpoint, Target’s revenue stands at $48.7 billion, meaning that the retailer is on track to become a $100 billion company by the end of fiscal 2021; that’s growth of 45% compared with five years ago. Today, Target also has more than 100 million members enrolled in its free Target Circle rewards program. In August, Cornell gave a bullish outlook for the fall and holiday quarters, despite all of the risks related to COVID-19, labor and supply chain challenges, and rising costs. “We are seeing growth on top of growth,” Cornell says. “We are seeing tremendous resilience in the consumer today and our traffic patterns. And we’re seeing that, as we start the third quarter, that traffic pattern and that resilience is continuing.” As the retailer reports “growth on top of growth,” however, Gomez points to opportunities for even more growth, especially in grocery.

Putting the 'Tar-zhay' in Grocery

Target’s grocery ambitions can be traced back to its 2009 PFresh initiative, which saw the retailer add fresh grocery to hundreds of stores. Fast-forward to today, and the vast majority of



COVER STORY

Target

the 1,909 stores in the Target footprint now feature an expansive food assortment, including perishables, dry grocery, dairy and frozen items. Nearly all of the company’s stores larger than 170,000 square feet offer a full line of food items comparable to those found at traditional supermarkets. Its small-format stores, under 50,000 square feet, offer more edited food assortments. Target’s food evolution since PFresh has meant expanded fresh and dry grocery assortments, the launch of several premium private and national food brands, and the adoption of an ultra-fast omnichannel fulfillment strategy – all of which makes food an even bigger opportunity for the retailer going forward. “We think of the Target experience as truly omnichannel, which means our stores are just as important as our e-commerce business,” Gomez says. “Our stores are important because they serve as hubs that enable us to get products to our guests in a really fast, easy way. They also create an experience that’s differentiated, and incredibly special. I can’t tell you how many guests tell me they come to Target to just wander the aisles, because they love the experience. So how that experience comes to life is really important. It needs to be clean. It needs to be easy. It needs to be inspirational.” In 2020, Target’s food and beverage business generated $18 billion in sales, and more than 70% of Target guests shop for foods and beverages. A key part of Target’s strategy is providing a curated assortment of national, emerging and owned brands. Approximately one-third of Target’s 2020 sales were related to owned and exclusive brands, some of which are part of its pledge to spend $2 billion with Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses by 2025. Speaking of such companies, Gomez says: “We've made a commitment to make Target even more inclusive through our Target’s flagship food and beverage brand, Good & Gather, launched in 2019 to replace most Archer Farms, Market Pantry and Simply Balanced items, has become the retailer’s No.1-selling food brand, generating $2 billion in sales last year. Good & Gather now has more than 2,000 items. The company says that it saw 36% growth in ownedbrand sales in 2020, its strongest performance on record.

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assortment, specifically by elevating BIPOC-owned businesses. When people shop at Target, we want them to feel welcomed and represented, with a curated assortment that’s relevant, compelling and differentiated.” According to Gomez, the retailer is also looking at smaller startups that might not be ready for Target but that have a ton of potential. "One of the ways we’re taking steps to build on our efforts to make Target more inclusive through our assortment is by participating in Target Takeoff, a business accelerator program designed to help diverse suppliers and emerging brands scale their business for success in mass retail," he said. "We had 11 emerging food brands participate in a recent session, and we’re committed to using this program as a pipeline opportunity for new business to get into Target.” As for the retailer’s owned brands, the flagship food and beverage brand Good & Gather, launched in 2019 to replace most Archer Farms, Market Pantry and Simply Balanced items, has become Target’s No.1-selling food brand, generating $2 billion in sales last year. The company says that it saw 36% growth in owned-brand sales in 2020, its strongest performance on record. Gomez attributes the success of Good & Gather to the company’s research on consumer trends. “We spent a lot of time listening to guests, and what their wants and needs are in shopping for groceries,” Gomez said. “And what guests told us is they were looking for a brand that could offer affordable, high-quality, easy options. And above all it had to deliver on taste. And that's what Good & Gather does. Good & Gather products are great tasting, affordable, and made from high-quality ingredients that you can feel good about feeding your family.” Target has extended the brand by launching Good & Gather Seasonal, Good & Gather Organic, Good


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COVER STORY

Target

& Gather Signature, Good & Gather Kids, and Good & Gather Plant Based. The brand now features more than 2,000 products, with most priced below $5. “We’ve also launched Good & Gather meal solutions, like our meal in a bag for under $15,” Gomez said. “They're great, easy to make meals, like sesame teriyaki chicken stir fry. And they deliver on what guests want in our assortment, which is more easy, inspiring ways to make mealtime at home more exciting.” The retailer plans to launch hundreds of new Good & Gather items this fall. “My favorite one is a frozen flatbread with arugula and prosciutto, that comes with a balsamic vinegar to drizzle on top once it’s baked,” he said. “We’re going to continue to bring new items under the Good & Gather brand, as there's a lot of runway for our owned brands as we work to meet guests’ evolving needs.” Good & Gather joins other new owned brands such as the indulgence-oriented Favorite Day (items priced under $15), Favorite Day Gourmet, and Kindfull, a pet product line. Favorite Day has more than 700 items, while Kindfull features more than 50 items. Gomez says that the company is launching dozens of new items this fall under the Favorite Day brand. “We have an outstanding food scientist and recipe development team, as well as packaging, marketing and sourcing teams,” Gomez said. “And when these products launch, they are, to me, the epitome of Tar-zhay. They’re delicious, they’re on trend, and they’re incredibly affordable.” Of course, providing an elevated grocery experience requires specialized team members to merchandise the retailer’s food and beverage departments, and that’s why the company has brought in a growing squad of what it calls food and beverage coordinators. These employees “are a game-changer for Target,” Gomez says. “They bring food and beverage expertise. But even more than that, they bring food and beverage passion. Many of them oversee a handful of stores and they partner closely with that store, helping them understand how to manage and grow a food and beverage business, while elevating our standards and meeting guest need. They bring a tremendous amount of expertise to our guests and the teams they lead.” In September, the retailer, which has about 350,000 employees who are trained to provide an elevated service

“Prior to the pandemic, we were making investments in our same-day services. When the pandemic hit, we were set up to deliver on our guests’ needs to create a safe and easy shopping experience.” —Rick Gomez, EVP and Chief Food and Beverage Officer, Target

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Target’s digital comps jumped 10% in the second quarter, building on record growth of 195% last year. Its digital channel is led by several same-day services that have grown 55% this year, on top of more than 270% last year. Target specifically credited its Drive Up service with double-digit growth in its fresh categories in Q2.

experience, said that it plans to hire more than 100,000 seasonal workers for the holidays and give employees more hours. Target, which raised its starting wage to $15 an hour last year, is also offering employees debt-free college tuition programs, among other benefits.

An Omnichannel Strategy That Clicks

Target’s strategic thinking led the company to invest in omnichannel optimization long before COVID-19, and that strategy has paid off in spades over the past year. Target was ready when the pandemic hit and e-commerce demand accelerated, with the majority of its food and beverage assortment available via several contactless pickup services. “Prior to the pandemic, we were making investments in our same-day services,” Gomez observes. “When the pandemic hit, we were set up to deliver on our guests’ needs to create a safe and easy shopping experience.” In August, the retailer said that its Q2 sales grew 9.5% to $25.2 billion, while comps increased 8.9% and digital comps jumped 10%, building on record growth of 195% last year. Target’s digital channel is led by same-day services such as Order Pickup, Drive Up and Target-owned Shipt, which together have grown 55% this year, on top of more than 270% last year. Target specifically credited Drive Up with double-digit growth in its fresh categories in the second quarter. This spring, Target expanded its same-day service assortment to include adult beverage items at more than 1,200 of its stores across the country. “We’re winning in digital because we don’t force


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COVER STORY

Target

our guests to shop on Target’s terms; instead, Target serves guests on their terms,” Gomez says. “There’s no minimum order requirement, no arbitrary pickup times, and when you click ‘I’m here in the parking lot,’ we’ll see you in two minutes or less — it’s that easy.” Target’s online investments haven’t come at the expense of physical stores, however, which remain an integral part of the retailer’s strategy. In fact, Target says that digital engagement drives more engagement in stores, providing more opportunities to surprise, delight and inspire guests. “That frictionless experience is why we continue to grow our digital business,” Gomez said. “Even as guests are shopping instore more often, we continue to see guests use our same-day services in record numbers. And we’ll continue to expand on those fulfillment options to help our guests do their Target run safely and easily, however they choose to shop.” Following a pandemic pause on store openings last year, the company still managed to remodel more than 130 stores and open 30 new stores in 2020. This year, Target aims to complete about 140 remodels and open as many as 40 new stores. After experimenting over the years with large and small formats, the retailer has adopted a more localized strategy, ranging from a planned 132,000-square-foot store in Yonkers, N.Y., to a

planned 12,000-square-foot store in Ann Arbor, Mich. To add capacity to Target’s fulfillment operation and further scale its stores-as-hubs model, the company opened two new distribution centers this year and has signed leases for four more “sortation” centers. These facilities collect online orders from local stores various times a day and sort them into efficient routes for carrier delivery. This pulls the sorting activity out of store back rooms so it can be consolidated more efficiently at one facility, giving store teams more time and space to fulfill additional orders, while reducing the load on external carriers. This process increases store fulfillment capacity and speeds delivery to guests, making it pivotal to the Target value proposition. “We recognize there’s plenty of work in front of us,” Gomez admits. “We’re definitely in the midst of this journey, but our food and beverage business has a ton of momentum right now, and our team is not resting on our laurels. We are committed to rewarding the trust our guests have placed in us by raising the bar on ourselves, so that we can deliver an experience that only gets better and better.”

Target’s Format Flexibility An opportunistic approach to real estate and emphasis on smaller stores has created new expansion opportunities for Target, and put the operator of 1,909 stores on a trajectory to surpass 2,000 locations by 2023. The retailer’s flexibility is evident in recent and planned openings, which range from a new 12,000-square-foot store near the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to a 145,000-square-foot store planned

At only 12,000 square feet, one of Target’s tiniest stores opened in late September near the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Target opened its first small format, dubbed Target Express at the time, in July 2014 in Minneapolis. Source: Target Corp. (as of Sept. 27, 2021)

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for Katy, Texas. Target has disclosed 49 upcoming store openings on its website, and 28 of those are less than 50,000 square feet, versus eight stores that are more than 100,000 square feet. The shift to smaller stores is notable, considering the majority of Target’s stores are legacy discount stores that averaged about 125,000 square feet and over the past decade underwent major remodels to expand grocery assortments.

Size Location (Square Feet)

Size Location (Square Feet)

Ann Arbor, Mich. 12,000 Costa Mesa, Calif. 37,000 Huntington Beach, Calif. 34,000 Inglewood, Calif. 34,000 Huntington Park, Calif. 34,000 San Diego 36,000 Scotts Valley, Calif. 55,000 Denver 30,000 Fort Collins, Colo. 45,000 Bradenton, Fla. 49,000 Orlando, Fla. 29,000 Grove Station, Fla. 49,000 Miami Beach, Fla. 30,000 Downtown Miami, Fla. 49,000 Miami 77,000 Kauai, Hawaii 122,000 Moscow, Idaho 60,000 North Quincy, Mass. 40,000 Kent Island, Md. 95,000 Auburn, Maine 105,000 Kill Devil Hills, N.C. 80,000 West Lebanon, N.H. 86,000 Eatontown, N.J. 60,000 Kearny, N.J. 90,000 Somers Point, N.J. 101,000

Wall Township, N.J. New York (Upper East Side) Bronx, N.Y. Brooklyn, N.Y. New York (Chelsea) New York (Harlem) Lake Success, N.Y. Long Island City, N.Y. New York (Soho) New York (Union Square) Port Chester, N.Y. Astoria, N.Y. New York (Times Square) Yonkers, N.Y. Cedar Mill, Ore. Pittsburgh, Pa. Lebanon, Pa. Wynnewood, Pa. Charleston, S.C. Katy, Texas Pentagon City, Va. Madison, Wis. Glendale, Wis. Jackson Hole, Wyo.

91,000 55,000 21,000 28,000 21,000 44,000 105,000 31,000 27,000 33,000 89,000 47,000 33,000 132,000 49,000 22,000 117,000 30,000 30,000 145,000 34,000 15,000 128,000 70,000



CPG INNOVATION

Bakery

St. Pierre Is on a Roll NE W CEO DAVID MILNER TALKS ABOUT WHAT’S NE X T FOR BRIOCHE AND THE BAKERY CATEGORY. By Gina Acosta

t’s impossible to walk into a retail bakery department and not find brioche hamburger rolls or hot dog buns. The prevalence of brioche as a subcategory within bakery coincides with the U.K.-based St. Pierre Groupe’s recent entry into the U.S. market. St. Pierre recently named CPG veteran David Milner CEO to drive the company’s next stage of growth, and he spoke with Progressive Grocer about building a brand, bakery category trends and whether Americans’ love affair with brioche will last. Progressive Grocer: Talk about how you started with St. Pierre Groupe and where you were before. David Milner: I’ve worked in the food industry for most of my career. When I first became involved with St. Pierre, I was running a chip business called SkinnyPop. But while I was there, I became chairman of St. Pierre, so I was helping them with their international expansion. They were pretty new into the U.S. at that point, but I’ve done a lot of work with FMCG businesses in building a U.K. business into the U.S. I joined as chairman for three years, helping with international expansion and development of the brand. PG: What is your vision for the St. Pierre brand in the U.S.? DM: I always try to work with companies that I truly believe in. So I chose St. Pierre because one of the things we have is a better product than anybody else, whether it’s a loaf or a burger bun or a hot dog roll, ours are fantastic. When you have a superior product, and you can truly believe in what you’re doing, then you work on the principle that, once people have tried what you got, they’ll recognize that it’s better and they’ll stay with it. So it’s quite a simple model. PG: What kind of leader are you? What’s your leadership style? DM: I try to share as much of what we’re trying to do with everybody, because I think most of the problems in business are communication issues. People either don’t understand or weren’t told, or heard one thing and thought it meant another. So I try to be as explicit as possible in sharing the big picture, and then let it be very clear what everyone’s role within that is, and then [we] all aim at the same thing. Try and keep it simple, and let people get on with their jobs. PG: So, looking at six months to 12 months out, what are your key strategic objectives? DM: There’s two, really. I think we’re in a very different business environment today than we’ve ever been in my career. I think the big challenge for all of us is: Can you get supply? And if you can get the product, can you get it to your customers? I mean, it’s always been a given in the past, and now I think it will determine the difference between success and failure. So I think that’s No. 1. I think the second one is, I’m desperate to physically get myself to the U.S. More than half of my business is in the U.S., and it’s very important to physically be there, to meet our customers, our consumers, all the people

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that work on the support of the brand, distributors, our salesforce. We’ve all learned in the last year and a half how to do things remotely, but there’s no substitute for physically being in the same room. PG: Can you elaborate on your supply chain challenges right now? DM: Manufacturers have the enviable position of having a lot of demand for their products, because people are still eating out less than they were. Anyone who produces products that are sold through supermarkets to consumers, they’re experiencing new demand and constraints. So the customers you’re dealing with have many people they’re trying to service, and that’s the challenge. Second, raw materials appear to be going up in cost everywhere. And then you couple that with freight prices going up and the shortage of truck drivers. Storage is less available and, therefore, more expensive. There’s inflation right across the market. We’ve got all the demand we need. My challenge as CEO is going to be, probably for the first time ever, can I work with the supply chain to make sure we have the right products in the right place, at the right time, at the most reasonable cost? PG: How is your U.S. team structured to serve your growing base of customers here? DM: We have relationships with the key retailers in the U.S., and we do that through our own salesforce based there. We also have a very good distributor that is nationwide; they work in a number of categories, and they represent us with our business in brioche. So we talk to our customers directly through our salesforce and then through the distributor. PG: What is your outlook for the bakery category? DM: Young people tend not to like big brands anymore. It’s a generalized statement, but I think, broadly, it’s correct. There will always be big brands, but the young people and people who are very contemporary in their outlook, they like things now which are a bit different. They’re new, they’ve got an angle, they have a mission or a vision for the world, they have provenance, they have health, authenticity. I started my career working with big brands. I’m very happy that I now work with the authentic, cool, young, smaller brands that are emerging and playing, because I think that’s what the market wants at the moment.


PG: Gluten-free, low carb, keto and other food trends have challenged the traditional definitions of healthfulness. How is that affecting St. Pierre and the bakery category? DM: If you were one of the big staple brands that’s been in bakery forever, producing standard white loaves, I think it’s a very big issue because there are people continually trying to reduce gluten in their diet, and they tend to be stepping away from standard bread. But we don’t do standard bread, we do brioche. We’ll enhance your burger experience by showing you that having a burger in a brioche bun, you never want to go back to your regular white roll. Ditto on hot dogs, ditto on French toast, breakfast. It’s always the case, there might be movements, in health terms, away from certain things. There’s always the time for treats. We’re in the business of indulgence and treats and special occasions. PG: Why do you think brioche has caught on in the United States, and how does St. Pierre stand out from other brioche or related competitors? DM: People are always looking for something new, something a bit special. If they hadn’t had brioche before and then they stumble on our brand, we have a superior product. So, if you’ve had a burger meal with one of our brioche burger buns, it’s even more delicious. I think that’s why brioche works: It delivers a new sensory experience. And we have authenticity. We’re lucky that we’re actually French, made in Nantes, France. If you’re in the U.S., it’s wonderful that you can buy and enjoy authentic French brioche and eat it when you’re having a treat.

“My challenge as CEO is going to be, probably for the first time ever, can I work with the supply chain to make sure we have the right products in the right place, at the right time, at the most reasonable cost?” —David Milner, CEO, St. Pierre Groupe

PG: How did you come up with a brioche bagel? DM: Well, that went very well. I have to say, I wasn’t sure people would love it, but people loved it. But rather than innovating new products, my job for the next year is to make sure that we can get all the basic brioche loaves and burger buns and hot dog rolls that customers want. If we can grow the business another 40% or 50%, I’ll be very happy. But that won’t be because we’ve launched a new format for a new type of brioche, it would be because we’ve just been able to get customers what they want in sufficient quantities. PG: Talk about the innovation process at St. Pierre. DM: We scout the world, we travel a lot. I was in Paris recently, and the French bakers were telling me that we should do English muffins. They were saying we should do a brioche English muffin. So we will look at that. But innovation requires the kind of energy to get up and physically go, visit the country, go in the shops, go in the restaurants. Oh, it’s a hard job that someone’s got to do [laughs]. But that’s the lovely thing about the food industry. It’s a sensory experience — it’s all about enjoyment. PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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Protein

A Helping of Ham FL AVOR AND CONVENIENCE ADD NE W INTEREST TO THIS ME AT CASE STAPLE AS INNOVATIONS CONTINUE IN OTHER PORK-BASED ME ATS.

Key Takeaways: Consumers are open to a variety of ham options, including innovative flavors, convenience items, better-for-you products, premium offerings, deli selections and high-protein snacks.

By Lynn Petrak

Like ham, the sausage category is mature but continually adding twists on a favorite protein type. Plant-based alternatives are even becoming players in the ham and sausage segments.

ured and smoked pork legs go back at least a couple of millennia, yet innovations in the ham category continue. From whole hams to convenience-oriented cuts to deli meats, processors and grocers are finding new ways to produce and market ham products. The same is true for sausage, another humble foodstuff with both an ancient history and a modern take. First, ham: Flavor is one driver of innovation, especially as today’s consumers remain on a quest to explore new tastes. While glazes and rubs for cured hams aren’t new, some of the ingredients are a departure from traditional seasonings such as brown sugar, molasses, honey, soy, orange juice and cloves. If the portfolio of hams from category stalwart Smithfield is any indication, consumers are open to different applications. The Smithfield, Va.-based processor offers spiral-sliced smoked ham varieties that include salted caramel and pecan praline, and, for those who crave texture as part of their eating experience, a ham coated in a crunchy glaze. Flavor delivered through the type of wood used for smoking is also a differentiator in ham. Hickory is the most common, and some brands tout other varieties, like Hormel’s Cure 81 cherrywood-smoked hams. In addition to heeding consumers’ interest in flavor, grocers can offer more ham options for shoppers, some of whom are

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Behind turkey, ham is the next most popular meat served at Thanksgiving, according to a Harris Poll conducted for Omaha Steaks. (Photo: Omaha Steaks)

seeking convenience, some of whom are experimenting with new recipes, and most of whom are doing a bit of both as they continue to prepare more meals at home during the sluggish return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Accordingly, many major ham brands offer a range of products for various usage occasions, spanning cooked and uncooked ham, boneless and bone-in options, spiral-sliced and unsliced products, and sizes ranging from quarter and half portions to whole hams. Packages of diced and cubed hams are shortcut solutions for an array of recipes, as are ham steaks that can be easily portioned or cooked in a skillet for a smaller meal. Also part of the ham section of the supermarket meat case are options that fit with shoppers’ healthier lifestyles. Smithfield Foods, for example, revealed this year that it will reduce sodium and sugar and embrace clean labeling across its portfolio by 2025, changes that will affect the brand’s ham offerings. The approach of the holidays is another reason for grocers to spotlight different types of ham products available in the meat case. Many families may be returning to big celebrations and want whole hams, while others might be having more intimate gatherings and will seek smaller portions and cuts. At the same time, convenience-oriented products like ham slices and pieces provide solutions for home cooks who are making recipes with ham as an ingredient.


EUROPEAN MEAT THE CAMPAIGN UNDER THE SHADOW OF COVID-19!

The information and promotional campaign “European quality meat,” run from 2018 by the Union of Producers and Employers of the Meat Industry (UPEMI), continues despite the new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of opportunities for direct meetings between the European Union and the USA and Canada. At the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic suppressed production and deliveries in multiple sectors of the world economy. Many consumers recall the sight of commodities being sold out from the shops and supermarkets and shopping carts filled up with stocks hoarded by disoriented customers. Despite the precarious situation on the international markets, downtimes within the supply chain and cases of COVID-19 outbreaks at many facilities of the meat sector, the European meat industry has managed to increase not only production but also trade with the USA and Canada. It is worth noting that no inroads have been identified through which COVID-19 might have migrated together with exported meat products, which has been confirmed by, for instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Therefore, there are no grounds for us to be apprehensive about meat imported from other countries or regions of the world, even if the COVID-19 issue affects them. Furthermore, the European Union is one of the leaders as regards the rate of vaccinating its citizens. The aforementioned data proves that the European Union is still a stable and trustworthy trade partner both for the USA and Canada. The positive picture of events is further confirmed by the current commercial data. The value of export from the European Union to the USA and Canada in 2020 increased by almost 4% up to 541 million euros, regardless of export decreased by 10% to 111 million tonnes. The production of pork in the European Union in the said year increased by 1,5%, whereas the production of beef decreased by 1,2%, when you compare that year to the previous one. The value of pork export from the EU to the USA decreased by 19%, whereas the value of beef export

Meat from Europe

from the EU to the USA was up by 55%; meanwhile, the value of exported meat preparations from the EU to the USA was down by 0,5%. Export to Canada also witnessed an increase, as the value of beef export from the EU to Canada increased by 260%, the value of pork export by 23%, while the value of exported preparations was up by 27%, when compared to the previous year. Based on the data, we can forecast that the trade relations concerning red meat between Europe and North America have a promising future, on the development of which COVID-19 can have little effect. The United States still remains the chief recipient of meat from the European Union overseas, accepting the majority of meat products exported from Europe to America. The prospects for the forthcoming period are positive – according to the USDA, the American Department of Agriculture, export from the European Union is to remain at a significantly higher level than before the pandemic. General events in the past years have not only made the sector look for new solutions and further increase the level of standards upheld, but also consumers to change their eating habits and be more cautious about the quality of products consumed, frequently at the expense of the higher price. The “European quality meat” campaign continues against all the odds under difficult and unstable circumstances. According to the assumptions, we plan on participating in the premiere iteration of the meat industry fair MeatEx CANADA, to be held in Toronto from 3 to 5 February 2022. We do hope that until the end of April 2022 we will be able to meet the Canadian and US industry partners and media representatives in the EU (in Poland). As early as today, we would like to encourage individuals willing to participate in the study trip to the European Union to contact us in this matter at: info@meatfromeurope.eu. We will be delighted to present our farms and processing plants and we will host meetings with manufacturers – the leaders of the European meat sector. See you around!

www.meatfromeurope.eu

The content of this promotional campaign reflects only the views of its author and is subject to its sole responsibility. The European Commission is not responsible for any possible use of the information contained in the campaign.


SOLUTIONS

Protein

A Little Bit Country

Cured hams and ham products from major processors like Smithfield, Hormel, Sugardale and others are commonly found in retail meat departments, but country hams have their place, too. One example is Dan’l Boone Inn brand country ham, from Boone, N.C.-based producer Goodnight Brothers, available at such grocers as Harris Teeter, Food City, Dollar Tree, Piggly Wiggly and Food King. The company also makes a natural country ham from pork that’s Animal Welfare Approved and cured without nitrites. The product is sold at Whole Foods Market locations in the south and at Earth Fare stores. Burger’s Smokehouse, in California, Mo., which sells its products to such stores as Schnucks, Woodman’s, Price Chopper and Walmart, offers fully cooked and uncooked country hams rubbed with salt, pepper and brown sugar and aged for more than 90 days. Burger’s also produces an “attic-aged” country ham that takes almost a year to make, according to the dictates of an original family recipe. As consumers have become more knowledgeable and discerning about where their food comes from, they’re also interested in higher-end hams. For instance, the Snake River Farms division of Agri-Beef, in Boise, Idaho, is known for its Wagyu beef, but it also offers Kurobata ham made from purebred Berkshire hogs raised on small family farms. The Omaha Steaks home-delivery menu includes Duroc ham made from a heritage breed of pork known for its tenderness. Amazon offers a grass-fed, bone-in Iberico pork ham cured with Mediterranean sea salt, produced in Spain and available for orders in the United States.

Interest in high-protein meals and snacks is leading to the development of items like Smithfield's Power Bites, made with ham and other meats.

Deli and Meal Solutions

In addition to hams sold in the retail meat case and butcher department, the overall ham category includes deli meats and prepared or packaged foods with ham as an ingredient. Indeed, ham remains one of the most popular deli meats, with new varieties regularly coming to market. Niman Ranch, based in Westminster, Colo., recently added new sliced deli hams made from The ham section of the retail meat case has broadened in recent years to include a greater variety of formats, portions and flavors.

pork raised with no antibiotics, while the D’Artagnan brand, based in Union County, N.J., has brought out a line of artisanal deli meats, including an uncured applewood-smoked Berkshire ham. Meanwhile, with continued demand for products high in protein, meal and snack makers are adding ham to their solutions. Smithfield, for its part, has rolled out heat-and-eat Power Bites made with ham, bacon, sausage, eggs and cheddar.

Links in a Similar Chain

Like ham, the sausage category is mature but continually adding twists on a favorite protein type. From ethnic forms like bratwurst, chorizo and Italian sausage, to sausage bites used on ever-popular charcuterie trays, these loveable links are staples in meat cases and as toppings and ingredients. (Fun fact: October is actually National Sausage Month.) Sausages flavored with spicy, bold or globally inspired flavors, and made with different base proteins of pork, chicken, turkey and even seafood, have been jazzing up the category for the past several years. Niman Ranch recently got inventive with flavors, introducing an applewood-smoked, bacon-flavored breakfast sausage. New forms of sausage are also helping grocers diversify their protein offerings. For instance, Johnsonville Sausage, of Sheboygan Falls, Wis., just came out with Sausage Strips, a fully cooked product that looks and cooks like bacon, but is made with pork-based sausage. The strips are available in original, spicy, maple and chorizo varieties. (For additional information, see Editors’ Picks on page 108).

Here Come the Plants

Plant-based alternatives are becoming players in the ham and sausage segments, just as such items have also shaken up other animal-based categories. Grocers can add these items to dedicated plant-based areas of the meat case or merchandise them alongside traditional animal-based counterparts. Several plant-based brands have introduced their versions of sausage, including Beyond Meat plantbased sausage; The Very Good Butchers’ Cajun sausages, bratwurst and breakfast sausages; Meatless Farm’s meat-free breakfast sausage links and patties; and Lightlife plant-based bratwurst, Italian sausage and chorizo. Alt-ham products are available, too, such as Tofurky’s plant-based ham roast with an amber ale glaze, and Yves veggie ham slices for sandwiches and ingredient applications.

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SOLUTIONS

Beverages

Something’s Brewing INTEREST IN SUSTAINABILIT Y, CONVENIENCE AND VARIE T Y IS CRE ATING BUZ Z IN THE COFFEE CATEGORY. By Lynn Petrak

f coffee is fuel for people to get through the day, the grocery store is a busy pit stop. Whether shoppers are picking up supplies to brew coffee drinks at home or ordering a cup of joe to go, they can choose from an ever-growing array of options in the center store and foodservice-at-retail perimeter as grocers keep up with the latest habits and preferences. As in other categories, the broader coffee sector reflects marketplace trends, including demand for better-for-you and fortified products, and an overall desire for sustainably harvested and produced items. Flavors run the gamut from mild to dark and other tastes in between, as consumers seek personally satisfying beverage experiences. Also, convenience, while taking on different dimensions during a pandemic that changed the way people work and live, is a factor in product development and grocery assortment.

Key Takeaways With more shoppers seeking better-for-you and better-for-theplanet consumable products, coffee CPGs and grocers are delivering on those twin demands. Retailers can provide solutions for coffeedrinking consumers by offering convenienceoriented products, increasingly with a premium profile, as well as a wide range of flavor profiles. Despite the pandemic, the in-store coffee bar remains a shopper attraction and a way to get traffic in the door. PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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Beverages

Westrock Coffee Co., which provides coffee under the Westrock Coffee name and various store brands, is promising to responsibly source 100% of its coffee and tea by 2025.

Solutions for the “Better”

With more shoppers seeking better-for-you and better-for-the-planet consumable products, coffee CPGs and grocers are delivering on those twin demands. For example, interest in enhanced beverages for health, wellness and, in the wake of the pandemic, immunity, are spurring the rollout of coffee products that fit that profile. The Super Coffee brand, for example, offers items like a ground dark roast enhanced with antioxidants, vitamins and I-theanine. VitaCup makes a Slim coffee enhanced with garcinia, ginseng and B vitamins, and a keto-friendly Genius coffee fortified with MCT oil, turmeric and B vitamins deemed helpful for brain health. Although coffee made from beans is inherently plant-based,

As consumer clamor continues for all things pumpkin spice and other fall flavors, Starbucks has expanded its retail offerings and merchandising support this year.

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some coffee makers are adding other or different plant-based ingredients. For instance, Laird Superfood offers a line of functional coffees made from mushrooms, like its Focus medium roast made with mushroom extracts and botanical adaptogens, and its Boost variety, also made with mushroom extracts and botanicals, along with added vitamin D. In addition to varieties that appeal to wellness-minded consumers who want some kind of “plus” in their coffee drinks, retailers’ coffee shelves are lined with more products that fall under the responsibility umbrella. From an environmental perspective, although sustainably sourced and organic coffees aren’t new, there are more of them, from brands like Ethical Bean Coffee, Chameleon Organic, Meritage Coffee, Mount Hagen and Newman’s Own, to name just a few. Often, the packaging aligns with the mission: Mount Hagen coffees, for example, are sold in recyclable glass jars and single-serve sticks. A new entry in the field is Atomo Coffee, the first molecular coffee company on the market, with a cold-brew ready-to-drink coffee made in a way that results in 93% less carbon emission and 94% less water than traditional coffee. Produced without coffee beans and using upcycled ingredients, Atomo’s product line includes a classic dark roast and an ultra-smooth roast. Fair trade coffees, which also tend to be organic or made in a sustainable way, are another way for grocers to add responsibly sourced SKUs at a time when more shoppers are seeking information about the products they buy. The CVS chain, for example, has added Fair Trade Certified coffees to its Gold Emblem grocery brand, with sales benefiting coffee producers through community development funds.


Westrock Coffee Co. LLC is an example of a brand that follows the wider definition of responsibility, recently pledging to responsibly source 100% of its coffee and tea by 2025. The Little Rock, Ark.-based company started as a small exporting business in Rwanda, establishing sustainable and traceable supply chains in East Africa, and has grown to produce 173 million pounds of coffee and tea around the world. “The better-for-you designation sometimes refers to organic, but our definition of better-for-you entails being better for the Coffee and tea are neighbors on store shelves, on coffee shop menus and in home producers of the coffee, better for the enpantries. Just as grocers can tap into trends with their coffee offerings, they can vironment in how it’s produced, and better also steep themselves in some tea trends. in terms of quality,” explains Matt Smith, According to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., the beverage can be found in Westrock’s EVP of global supply chain, almost 80% of U.S. households, and Americans consumed more than 84 billion quality and sustainability. “We are seeing servings of tea in 2020. Tea remains the most widely consumed beverage in the excellent demand growth in these areas.” world besides water, the New York-based association notes. Westrock is also seeing a bump for its While tea is one of the oldest and most popular beverages, there are private label coffees and teas among groinnovations in this category as well. As with coffee, cold-brew teas are cers. “I think we’ll see that demand accelmaking inroads, with products like small-batch cold-brew organic sparerate, especially because the upcharge of kling teas from the startup brand Enroot. Likewise, enhanced teas appeal better-for-you is very minimal in terms of the to health-oriented shoppers, such as a line of ready-to-drink sparkling brand protection it provides,” Smith notes. botanicals from Rishi Tea & Botanicals, in varieties such as Dandelion In addition to embracing responsibly Ginger, Grapefruit Quince and Turmeric Saffron. Meanwhile, in response sourced coffee products from international to consumer interest in both water and tea, the long-established Twinings producers, grocers — especially smaller brand now offers a line of Cold Infuse flavored cold-water enhancers. and independent stores — often differentiate themselves by carrying coffees from local manufacturers. E-commerce businesses have delved into this area, As cold brew has taken off, so have instant and too; FreshDirect, for example, recently added premium coffee from a near-instant cold-brew products. Examples include a local Bronx, N.Y., brand, Don Carvajal Café. cold-brew coffee pack from Dunkin’s grocery brand, and cold-brew concentrates from manufacturers like Chameleon Organic and Starbucks. Choices for Convenience Retailers can also provide solutions for their coffee-drinking conAt Westrock, Smith agrees that convenience, while sumers by offering convenience-oriented products, increasingly evolving in the face of the pandemic, is a strong with a premium profile. sales driver. “We continue to see growth and a focus Ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee products appeal to shoppers who on single-serve and ready-to-serve product lines, want a quick pick-me-up or don’t feel like making their own coffee including cold brew,” he says. “Convenience and beverages at home. Shelf-stable products in bottles and cartons convenience at home are growing trends — these have been effectively merchandised alongside whole-bean and things will be part of grocery shelves in the future.” ground coffee in the coffee aisle, and cross-merchandised in Despite some concerns in recent years about grab-and-go refrigerated cases closer to checkout areas and in the foodservice perimeter. In addition to traditional RTD coffee products like iced coffee, The better-for-you flavored brews and espresso-inspired drinks, this slice of the market has seen some newer entries with functional properties. One designation sometimes example is Soylent’s Café Mocha, made with plant protein. refers to organic, but our definition One of the original convenient forms of coffee, of course, is inof better-for-you entails being stant coffee. Although some instant-coffee mainstays have retained better for the producers of the loyal followings, there has been a premiumization of instant coffee over the past several years. Following its Via instant-coffee packs, coffee, better for the environment for example, the Starbucks grocery brand added a premium inin how it’s produced, and better in stant-coffee product, made with 100% Arabica beans. Meanwhile, terms of quality.” the venerable Nescafé instant-coffee brand continues to expand its —Matt Smith, Westrock Coffee Co. LLC line, with new higher-end varieties like Clasico Brazil Instant Coffee.

Here’s the Tea

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Beverages package waste, convenient coffee pods and capsules also take up a good part of the center store coffee area. In addition to new roasts and flavor varieties from brands that offer such products, this segment includes pods considered eco-friendlier, like Gourmesso’s 100% compostable pods and capsules, carried by retailers such as Walmart and Amazon.

Providing for Palates

The 2021 Best Coffee Cities in America

Top 20 Cities for Coffee Lovers 1. Portland, Ore. 2. San Francisco 3. Seattle 4. Orlando, Fla. 5. Pittsburgh 6. Honolulu 7. Tampa, Fla. 8. Miami 9. San Diego 10. Boston 11. Minneapolis 12. Los Angeles 13. Denver 14. Long Beach, Calif. 15. New Orleans 16. Oakland, Calif. 17. Jersey City, N.J. 18. Washington, D.C. 19. Irvine, Calif.

Grocers can cater to consumers’ taste for rich, robust flavor — evident in other product categories like chocolate and beer — by offering darker and fuller-bodied varieties of coffee beans, grinds, pods, capsules and instant-coffee products. Longtime brand Folgers, for its part, offers Noir and Black Silk lines for consumers who gravitate toward dark-roasted, complex coffees; these varieties come in ground coffee, pod and single-serve stick formats. Another brand specializing in dark coffee is Death Wish Coffee, which touts its Arabica and Robusta bean blend as “the world’s strongest coffee,” with twice the strength of the average cup. On the other end of the spectrum, grocers can also meet the preferences of coffee consumers who want or need something less bold. Folgers, for 20. New York instance, offers smooth coffee options described as “stomach friendly,” targeted Source: WalletHub to those who like coffee but want to drink something mild and gentle. In this pumpkin spice latte season that has given rise to the culturally hip “PSL” acronym, seasonal coffee varieties and displays can draw in shoppers who get excited about limited-time offerings, The Starbucks grocery brand, for its part, expanded its fall-themed retail offerings this year, supporting the line with point-of-sale signage and materials. Heading into the holidays, end caps and other displays with seasonal flavors of coffees can grab the attention of consumers who have begun entertaining family and small groups of friends, following a mostly at-home 2020 holiday. Meanwhile, aligning with the “never bored” mantra when it comes to adventurous flavor and today’s consumers, coffee brands continue to experiment with different flavor combinations to give a fresh jolt to the category. Case in point: Dunkin’s recently introduced ground-coffee additions of Caramel Me Crazy, Cinnamania and Chocoholic Pancake.

If You Brew it, They Will Come

Even with the pivots of the COVID-19 era, the in-store coffee bar remains a shopper attraction and a way to get traffic in the door. Many retailers, especially larger operations with multiple banners, partner with coffee chains like Starbucks to provide coffee service inside their brick-and-mortar locations.

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There are also opportunities to work with local or regional coffee stores to create a café-within-a-store. For instance, Homeland Stores, part of HAC Inc., in Oklahoma City, recently opened a new location that includes a coffee shop run by Not Your Average Joe, an organization that provides employment to intellectually disabled individuals. Grocers around the country are raising their own bars when it comes to coffee menus. In one of its newest stores in the New York City area, for example, Whole Foods Market unveiled a full-service coffee bar, complete with nitro cold brew on tap. The espresso bar is a place where smaller and independent grocers can shine. Greer’s, a specialty market in Alabama, recently opened a new location with a coffee station and a rooftop patio where shoppers can enjoy their drinks. Since opening last June, The Brew bar at Dom’s Kitchen and market in Chicago, has become a neighborhood hub, where people can pick up coffee and tea in the morning, and wine, beer, seltzers and cocktails in the evening. The area includes an exterior walkup window where customers can retrieve online orders. “The Brew, Dom’s adjacent greenhouse and two outdoor patios have become popular hangout spots for locals,” notes spokeswoman Megan Jennett, adding that the section is also home to informal chess nights every other Friday, and has become a gathering spot for a local running club. The store has also maximized coffee-merchandising opportunities. “One of the great things about Dom’s is that everything that is in our kitchen is also in our market,” Jennett explains. “We sell the beans that we use behind The Brew in the market. Recently, we partnered with Hexe Coffee Co., a local coffee roaster and café and brand that we serve behind The Brew, to bring whiskey barrel-aged beans to Dom’s. Hexe brought the whole barrel to Dom’s, cracked it and scooped out beans for guests to purchase and bring home.” Some industry suppliers are making it easier for grocers to get started in coffee service. For instance, Berkeley, Calif.-based Bellwether Coffee has created a self-contained coffee-roasting machine that is all-electric, ventless, smokeless and automated, and can roast up to 200 pounds a day, to use in an in-store café or as a store brand in the coffee aisle. The roaster is intended to provide an in-store coffee experience for shoppers, both from an aroma and taste standpoint.

WalletHub compared the 100 largest cities across 12 key indicators of a strong coffee culture. The data set ranged from coffee shops, coffee houses and cafés per capita to the average price per pack of coffee.


SOLUTIONS

Plant-Based Foods

Go Nuts With Berries A RECENT TRIP TO NATUR AL PRODUCTS E XPO E AST FOUND THESE T WO PL ANT-BASED STALWARTS AS COMPLEMENTARY INGREDIENTS IN A VARIE T Y OF HE ALTHIER PRODUCTS, AS WELL AS SEPAR ATELY.

Key Takeaways Nuts and berries appeared together on the Natural Products Expo East show floor as complementary components of various better-for-you products.

By Bridget Goldschmidt

On their own, nuts starred in a range of standout savory snacks, as well as being featured in some innovative formats.

t the recent Natural Products Expo East, which made its triumphant in-person return late last month at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia, plant-based foods were widespread, but two receiving less buzz in recent years are among the most easily accessible: nuts and berries. Separately, they make for admirably healthy snacks or recipe ingredients — nuts are good sources of fiber, antioxidants, protein and healthy fat, while berries are low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants, to name just a few of the attributes of each — but combined in such popular offerings as bars, granolas and trail mixes, they’re an unbeatable combination. Snack nuts are one of the categories that has benefited from increased consumer interest in snacks as meal replacements, with multioutlet dollar sales of $4.6 billion for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 5, $104 million more than the year-ago period, according to Chicago-based IRI, while multioutlet sales of baking nuts, although down 1.2% from last year’s home-baking frenzy amid COVID-19 lockdowns, were still a respectable $1.1 billion for the same time period. “However, pound sales are up 2.2%, which is one of the few areas within the baking aisle that is seeing growth,” notes Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics LLC. (While technically, peanuts are legumes, for culinary and nutritional purposes, they’re generally classified as nuts, so they will be considered as such in this article.)

Berries as a flavoring were found beyond the food and beverage portion of the show as ingredients in many dietary supplements and other wellness products.

For their part, fresh berries emerged as a top seller during the pandemic as shoppers shifted to packaged produce, FMI — The Food Industry Association found in “The Power of Produce 2021” report. More recently, according to August IRI multioutlet data, berries were first on the list of the top 10 produce items in absolute dollar growth, with $55 million in absolute dollar gain, 8.0% dollar growth and total dollar sales of $745 million. Additionally, with organic and natural products experiencing higher dollar growth than conventional products for the 52 weeks ending Aug. 8 — 2.2% and 5.9%, respectively, versus 1.9% — according to IRI-powered research presented by Chicago-based SPINS during Expo East, offering organic and natural nut and berry products could unlock additional sales for grocers.

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SOLUTIONS

Plant-Based Foods Two of a Kind

Together, the two nutritional powerhouses showed up on the Expo East show floor as complementary flavors in various products. Among nutritional bars, offerings included Thunderbird’s Pecan Goji Pistachio Paleo superfood bar; the refrigerated Blueberry Banana Almond Core Bar; NuSkool’s Berry Muffin MCT Collagen Bar, made with almond butter and almonds; Fast Bar, created for intermittent fasters from such ingredients as pecans, macadamia nuts and almonds, in a Blueberry Açai flavor; Açai Roots’ Açai + Peanut Butter Superfood Bar; and the Dates and Peanut Butter FitNeed Protein Bar, offering a whopping 15 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. Other products included Eden Foods’ organic Wild Berry Mix, featuring dry-roasted pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds, dry-roasted almonds, cranberries and wild blueberries, among other ingredients, and New England Naturals Cranberry Almond Granola Clusters.

Just Nuts

Even on their own, nuts made an impressive showing on the expo floor, with Sahale Snacks displaying its new Bean + Nut snack mixes

Multioutlet dollar sales of snack nuts for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 5, reflecting increased consumer interest in snacks as meal replacements. Source: IRI

in such savory lower-sugar profiles as Creole and White Cheddar Black Pepper. Other offerings in this space include Recipe 33’s Garlic Dill, Black Truffle, Smoky Serrano and Lemon Rosemary almonds; Nichols Farms’ no-shell Garlic Garden Herbs and Jalapeño Lime Pistachios; Bubba’s Fine Foods Savory Keto Nut Mix, with almonds, walnuts and pecans; and Pizootz’s premium Virginia artisan peanuts in such flavors as Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper and the rather daunting Inferno (featuring habanero, Carolina reaper and malagueta peppers), as well as the brand’s Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Pecans. As a bonus, Recipe 33 and Pizootz offer nuts infused with flavor rather than coated with it, so there’s no messy residue to get on snackers’ hands. Innovation was also on show at the Nutty Gourmet booth, where Tony Varni, VP of sales and marketing for the grower-owned company, explained that its roasted and seasoned walnut snacks — including such spicy flavors as Buffalo, Chipotle and even Habanero — undergo a dry-steam pasteurization process to reduce phytic acid. Nutty Gourmet also makes a range of nut butters far beyond the familiar peanut and almond: Besides walnut butter in several varieties, the brand offers pistachio and pecan praline butters. SunRidge Farm displayed some particularly inventive flavors straddling the divide between sweet and savory, among them Chile Lime Almonds with New Mexico red chile, Maple Mustard Cashews, and Sea Salt and Apple Cider Vinegar Cashews. Pocket Latte’s Coffee Nuts, coffee- and chocolate-coated almonds available in a Mocha + Sea Salt flavor, touted the fact that the product has 46% less sugar than the leading brand. Offering nuts in a different form were Sunny Fruit’s Have A Ball line of organic coconut-coated fruit-andnut snacks, including two functional SKUs, Fig & Walnut With Prebiotics and Cherry & Hazelnut With Protein, and The GFB (Gluten-Free Bar) Bites in Banana + Nut and Dark Chocolate + Hazelnut varieties. Meanwhile, the folks at Moon Cheese, maker of a poppable all-cheese snack, have created their own

Many nut offerings at Natural Products Expo East featured savory profiles, among them Sahale Snacks' Bean + Nut snack mixes and several of Nutty Gourmet's roasted and seasoned walnut snacks.

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Berry flavorings were prevalent at Natural Products Expo East in many wellness products supporting immune health, while Eden Foods' Wild Berry Mix featured dryroasted almonds along with berries and seeds.

take on the trail mix with a line of low-carb Protein Blitz Mixes in Crazy Cheesy (crunchy cheddar bites and whole roasted almonds) and Zesty Ranch (crispy gouda bites and crunchy pecan halves) varieties. Nut-flavored granolas were in attendance at the show as well, including Purely Elizabeth’s Honey Peanut Butter Ancient Grain Granola clusters and Grain-Free Apple Walnut Keto Granola Clusters, and Lakanto’s no-sugar-added Cinnamon Almond Crunch Granola, sweetened with monk fruit. Among the more intriguing nut-based products were Split, a double pouch featuring peanut butter and grape jelly in separate compartments meant to be kneaded, folded and eaten together; Octonuts almond and walnut protein powders, which can be used in a range of recipes; and Earth Nut, a plant-based burger made from peanuts, chickpeas and spices.

Berry Special

Meanwhile, berries featured in granolas such as New England Naturals’ Unsweetened Gluten-Free Strawberry Granola, Protein Blueberry Harvest Granola and Unsweetened Gluten-Free Berry Coconut Granola; Eden Foods’ dried blueberries, dried cranberries and Spicy Berry Mix consisting of seeds, berries and raisins seasoned with cayenne pepper, garlic and Eden Tamari Soy Sauce; Upland’s freeze-dried super snack bites of strawberry, beet, quinoa, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds; That’s It. no-sugar-added fruit bars in Apples + Strawberries and Apples + Blueberries flavors; Fruit Haven’s CherryBerry blend of premium dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries; and Mush Ready-to-Eat Oats’ Blueberry and Strawberry flavors (the brand also offers a separate three-item line featuring nuts: Peanut Butter Swirl, Honey Nut and Vanilla Almond). Also, while fresh produce wasn’t a focus of the event, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) was on hand to promote its fresh offerings, including organic strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and mixed berries for the produce section. Interestingly, berry flavors were prevalent beyond the food and beverage offerings at Expo East, with many dietary supplements and other wellness products touting the inclusion of elderberry, açai, goji and other berries as part of the rising food-as-medicine trend, particularly when it comes to boosting the immune system, an growing area of concern. Among the items illustrating this movement were even some product lines that also featured nuts, like HealRight bars in such varieties as Peanut Butter Banana (digestive health) and Dark Chocolate Blueberry (gut health).

Products featuring nuts and berries were promoted at Natural Products Expo East as part of the rising food-as-medicine trend, including HealRight bars. PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Refrigeration

Aldi makes a statement with frozen and refrigerated fixtures in a meat department that features closed fronts to reduce energy consumption.

Keeping Cool Amid New Cold-Chain Challenges NE W REFRIGER ATION REQUIREMENTS CRE ATE OPPORTUNITIES TO GAIN EFFICIENCY AND REDUCE CLIMATE IMPACTS. By Mike Troy eeping food cold is a cornerstone of the grocery industry, with billions spent annually on new equipment, repairs and maintenance. This reliance on refrigeration and its associated expense set grocers apart from every other segment of retail, due to a unique combination of costs and specific merchandising and regulatory challenges. The latter is especially concerning for grocers in 2021 as refrigerant requirements change, and regulators able to

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Key Takeaways As refrigerant requirements change, regulators will become more vigilant amid the current political climate. California is often the tip of the regulatory iceberg. New state and federal regulations will mean even more accurate recordkeeping and potentially huge capital investments to ensure that the most advanced equipment is in place.

extract fines from grocers for administrative recordkeeping errors become more vigilant amid the current political climate. “We have seen standards generally tightening across the board, and grocers are facing more and more exposure as they diversify their services and



EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Refrigeration

offerings,” notes Grant Salisbury, chief marketing officer with ServiceChannel, a provider of a software solutions platform on which retailers procure, manage and automate facilities services. The company has a unique perspective on the facilities world, specifically in relation to trends in refrigeration, because major retailers operating more than 350,000 locations on its platform spend roughly $8 billion in 74 countries. “We’re seeing the costs and liabilities continue to climb,” Salisbury says in regard to refrigeration, for which the firm’s data shows the cost of an average repair is more than $2,000. “We’re also expecting a lot more diligent EPA action at the national level under the new Biden administration.”

Making an Example of Albertsons

Over the years, large retailers have been a favorite target of California regulators, which Albertsons Cos. discovered recently. The company agreed to pay a $5.1 million fine in July, after California Air Resources Board (CARB) inspectors said that it violated the state’s Refrigerant Management Program (RMP). The investigation was conducted between 2016 and 2018, and CARB said that it found such violations as failing to annually audit and calibrate automatic leak detection equipment, repair detected refrigerant leaks within 14 days, and accurately register and report stores’ refrigeration systems, and not maintaining required records for at least five years. The RMP was adopted in 2009 as part of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which makes every grocer a potential investigative target due to dependence on refrigeration systems. “Most refrigeration systems in retail food use high-global refrigerants that have a high global-warming potential (high GWP), trapping heat in the atmosphere much more effectively than carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas” is how CARB described circumstances in the grocery industry when it fined Albertsons. California is often the tip of the regulatory iceberg, and officials there seem to relish the state’s status as a trendsetter. For example, in late 2020, CARB approved what it called “first-in-the-nation rules

The growth of e-commerce is fueling new use cases for refrigeration, such as with Kroger delivery vehicles that feature three temperature zones.

to curb the impact of powerful artificial refrigerants that pose a growing danger globally to efforts to contain the worst impacts of climate change,” and suggested that the rules could serve as a national model. “Chemical refrigerants are fast-acting super-pollutants and the fastest-growing source of climate gases in the world today,” said Mary D. Nichols, a longtime environmental lawyer who chaired the CARB board at the time, “and as the earth grows warmer, people will need to cool food, medicine and their buildings even more than we do today. We need safer alternatives to be deployed as fast as possible.”

Keep an Eye on California

The regulations now in place in California are designed to reduce hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions 40% below 2013 levels by 2030, and are described by CARB as the most comprehensive of their kind in the world. The new rules affect commercial and industrial stationary refrigeration units such as those used by large grocery stores, as well as commercial and residential air-conditioning units. CARB claims that the rules will contribute to reversing the growth trend in HFC emissions that it deems a threat to the planet, and will help California achieve its goal of carbon neutrality. The group further estimates that the regulations will achieve annual reductions by approximately 3.2 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions, with a cumulative reduction of more than 62 million metric tons by 2040. Food City's newest stores employ closed-front cases with LED lighting that makes artfully arranged produce pop.

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What that means for grocers is even more accurate recordkeeping, and, over time, potentially huge capital investments to ensure that the most advanced equipment is in place to avoid liabilities associated with old units, which may still function properly but present regulatory risks. “We are seeing compliance costs go up in other ways,” Salisbury says. “For example, the new refrigerant types that the EPA is recommending, like R448A, are often more than twice as expensive as the older types they’re replacing, and they also have really high retrofit costs.” In addition, Salisbury cautions that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act mean that every retail location has to be inspection-ready every day of the year. “The average grocer faces millions of dollars in increased cost and liabilities if they aren’t prepared to keep up with these kinds of regulatory statutes,” he observes.

What Happens Next

Grocers’ dependence on refrigeration is in for a new set of challenges following the late-September establishment of a final rule related to the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act that was enacted in December 2020. The rule establishes a comprehensive program to cap and phase down the production and consumption of HFCs used in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment by 85% over the next 15 years. Although described as a “final rule,” it’s really the first milestone in the implementation of the AIM Act, according to EPA, with more rules to follow. While the rule will impose new requirements on equipment manufacturers and retailers, it does alleviate regulatory uncertainty, so industry stakeholders now know what they’re up against and can plan accordingly. Open-top frozen bunkers improve accessibility, as evidenced by this shopper at Sprouts Farmers Market.

We have seen standards generally tightening across the board, and grocers are facing more and more exposure as they diversify their services and offerings.” —Grant Salisbury, ServiceChannel

“Predictability is a very important aspect of the manufacturing process, and this timely rule ensures that our member companies are aware of this regulatory terrain for the coming years,” says Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute.

EPA Singles Out Good Grocers Highly efficient refrigeration systems are a great way for grocers to achieve sustainability goals and to get recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Through a program called the GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership, EPA highlights grocers whose commitment to reduce refrigerant emissions means that they maintain corporate-wide emissions rates that are approximately half the industry average. That’s an impressive accomplishment, which explains why only 12 retailers were singled out in September for recognition by EPA as GreenChill partners. The companies were: Best Corporate Emissions Rate: Meijer; Cook County Whole Foods Co-op Most Improved Emissions Rate: City Market; Onion River Co-op; Weis Markets Superior Goal Achievement: Cook County Whole Foods Co-op; Food Lion; Grocery Outlet; Hy-Vee; Meijer; Raley’s; Sprouts Farmers Market; Target Exceptional Goal Achievement: Hy-Vee; Meijer “Many refrigerants are climate damaging, so by reducing refrigerant emissions and switching to ... environmentally friendlier refrigerants, these companies are demonstrating their dedication to a sustainable future,” said Joe Goffman, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, at the time that the GreenChill partners were revealed.

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SUPPLY CHAIN

Sanitation

Are You Attracting More Than Customers? GROCERS ARE BAT TLING BUGS WITH INTEGR ATED PEST MANAGEMENT APPROACHES AND NE W TECHNOLOGY TOOLS. By Marian Zboraj

uch has been discussed in terms of grocers enhancing their sanitation measures during the COVID-19 pandemic as customers demanded a safe shopping environment. Associates stepped up cleaning practices of frequently touched areas and throughout stores, while some food retailers used robotic solutions to automatically disinfect surfaces. In fact, many sanitation measures adopted during the height of the pandemic are still in practice today. However, while grocers have been preoccupied with preventing the spread of COVID-19, another big sanitary issue lurking in the corners may have gone overlooked: pests.

The Dangers of Bugging Out

Food retailers need to actively prevent pest infestation to avoid health hazards and reduce product loss, as well as to protect their reputations. From a health perspective, pests can transmit pathogens directly or indirectly. “Direct transmission can occur from blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes, fleas or ticks,” explains Don Foster, ACE, technical manager at Memphis, Tenn.-based Terminix. “Mosquito populations can develop in stagnant/standing water inside of trash receptacles, potted plants, gutters or storm drains that may support breeding populations on the exterior. Fleas and ticks can be associated with feral dogs and cats, mice, rats, bats, or other wild animals, such as squirrels, raccoons and opossums, that can and do enter grocery stores.” Foster says that indirect transmission comes from pests contaminating surfaces through physical contact. Flying insects such as flies can transmit pathogens when they land and simply walk on surfaces, or even defecate and/ or regurgitate on these high-touch areas. The same goes for crawling insects like cockroaches, beetles and ants. Pests can also trigger allergic reactions in customers shopping at a food retailer. “Both insect and rodent droppings can cause allergic reactions, as well as urine deposits from rodents that have not been properly sanitized,” cautions Foster. “Proteins in these deposits can cause asthma attacks or flu-like symptoms.” From an economic perspective, John Bell, a board-certified entomologist and technical director for global pest control company Rentokil, says that stored-product pests, such as some moths and beetles, can infest food products like grains, dry beans and flour products. “If left unchecked, these pests will continue to seek out additional food, and the amount of ruined product increases, causing economic losses,” Bell notes.

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Key Takeaways Food retailers need to actively prevent pest infestation to avoid health hazards and reduce product loss, as well as to protect their reputations. Integrated pest management (IPM) methods can be a more effective and environmentally sensitive approach to controlling pests, with new technology being developed on a regular basis. Other important tools in IPM are monitoring and retail associate education. Additionally, a grocer’s brand may suffer, as pests of any kind — from rodents to fruit flies — can easily deflate a customer’s confidence in a food retailer. “Small cockroaches, such as the German cockroach, reproduce quickly in the right conditions and can cause a social stigma that the store is unclean and deter shoppers, especially if those same cockroaches hitch rides to unknowing patrons’ homes in their grocery bags,” points out Bell. Don’t forget: It takes one image of a cockroach crawling on store shelves posted to social media to go viral and cause irreparable damage to a food retailer’s image.

A More Proactive and Sustainable Plan of Attack

Incorporating integrated pest management (IPM) methods can be a more effective and environmentally sensitive approach to controlling pests.


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SUPPLY CHAIN

Sanitation EPA describes IPM programs as using current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment. Rather than setting mouse traps to eliminate the critters that you can see – and simply hoping that they’ll come in contact with the devices – an IPM provider can go to the root of the problem of why and how they’re entering the store to prevent an infestation from occurring, getting out of control or being reported by a customer. “IPM uses our knowledge of the pests’ habitats and characteristics to guide us in preventing pest populations before they become infestations through the use of various tools such as prevention and monitoring, and then addressing the issue while it is still small,” Bell explains. Judy Black, VP of quality assurance and technical services at Atlanta-based Rollins Inc., agrees. “An IPM approach will help to identify introductions before they become infestations, thus making it easier to eliminate those pests,” Black says. “IPM also allows for the use of fewer pesticides, although this is contingent on a partnership between the grocer and the pest management provider.” Because an IPM approach focuses on the root cause of a pest situation, a grocer may find that it needs to focus on employee practices, sanitation measures or exclusion methods.

Best Practices in Avoiding Pests

As mentioned, one of the most effective tools for responsible grocery stores to implement is prevention — stopping the pest from entering the establishment in the first place. “This can be done in various ways, including exclusion, sanitation and rotation practices,” Bell explains. “Exclusion simply applies barriers to known or suspected points of entry. These barriers that prevent pests from entering may include physical components like caulk, door sweeps or rubber seals. They also may include insect control products that can help repel or kill insects that try to enter. Sanitation is important to keep areas free of attractive food sources or areas that pests can call home. Keeping debris off floors and areas free of unnecessary debris are great examples.” Foster outlines a few other preventive measures: Place eye-catching displays that draw your patrons at the front door away from the sensor that prevents the doors from closing to help prevent critters from sneaking in.

Entry doors should be checked for timing (electronic), in addition to gaps at the top, along the sides and at the bottom. Air currents passing through these gaps, as well as visible light around these gaps, will attract pests.

Window frames should be checked for gaps as well. Some locations may have a facade in which gaps around windows lead into the drop ceiling of structures.

Trash receptacles can draw numerous pests, including feral cats. Use high-quality receptacles and place them well away from entry doors.

Outdoor lighting should be evaluated. The type of lighting and brightness can either draw or repel flying insects. Lighting that produces excess heat will be more attractive to flying insects.

Bug-attracting plants and garden supplies should be positioned away from entry doors.

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Candy displays shouldn’t be placed in lobbies close to entry doors, as they not only attract humans with a sweet tooth, but critters as well.

Eliminate stagnant/standing water around entrances to prevent attracting disease-carrying mosquitos.

Also, in food preparation areas, keep dishes, cooking pans and utensils washed and dried when not in use. For stored-product pests, Black stresses using the first-in/first-out process: verify stock rotation, and remove outdated products promptly. “Many stored-product pest issues are caused by having product on the shelf for an excessive period of time,” she says. “Have a SPP [stored-product pest] monitoring program included in your IPM program. This is often an extra charge, but well worth it.” Stored-product pests often leave behind eggs, larvae and pupae in and around food products. These pests often cause widespread infestations with more than one source, which is one reason that they can be difficult to treat. For stored-product pests, Foster recommends the following: Verify that gondolas have top caps to prevent product spillage and harborage.

Reduce the use of pegboard as a backer in a gondola tower. Pegboard is often found on aisles containing baking goods, pet foods, rice and beans.

Use packaging tape to cover seams between gondola decks and shelving to prevent spillage under decks.

Remove fallen product behind and underneath gondolas, and remove kickplates during cleaning.

Items infested with stored-product pests should be removed from the store immediately. Another important tool in pest management is monitoring. Monitors are indicators that show potential pest problems and address them before they become a major issue. According to Bell, special traps that use attractants are available to entice specific pests to help monitor an area. “If they catch one of these pests, it will tell us what type of pest, the location and how severe the population is already, allowing us to immediately address the population before it becomes an infestation,” he says. “Addressing these pest populations when small helps reduce damage caused, control effort and footprint required.” IPM includes ongoing monitoring and evaluation of treatment effectiveness, so that treatment strategies can be altered if pest activity changes. “Once we identify a pest population, we need to eliminate it,” Bell continues. “This could be as simple as removing the infested product [or] the application of pest control products.” “Overall, have a professional pest management


LED insect light traps like the Genus FLI, from Rollins’ brand Orkin, have proved to be more effective, as well as more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, than their fluorescent counterparts.

provider who employs an integrated pest management approach to your facility,” Black stresses. “More specifically, train your team members to notice and report pest issues they see, so that your provider can address the issues as soon after introduction as possible.”

Futuristic Fighting Tools

New technology is being developed on a regular basis to integrate into an IPM program. “Some of these items allow the service professional to concentrate more on inspection than checking devices,” Foster says. “Using technology, pest activity can be captured and recorded through

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snapshots. These provide capture counts and, in some cases, species identification. This technology is seen with pheromone traps and insect light traps.” “LED insect light traps have proven to be more effective, and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, than their fluorescent counterparts,” Black adds. “There are both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house options.” According to Foster, the same type of technology has been developed with rodent-monitoring systems. “Some systems use Bluetooth technology, while other systems can provide instant-capture notifications through cellular communication,” he notes. “Some systems identify the target through imagery and weight displacement before allowing the target access to rodenticide. These systems can alert the client as well as the service professional for real-time responses to help mitigate pest pressure.” An essential aspect of IPM is educating retail staffers about the conditions that can harbor pests and how to recognize conditions that can be conducive to pest activity. “Without cooperation, IPM does not work,” Black warns. “In fact, without cooperation, pest management does not work in any form.”

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EDITORS’ PICKS

Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Better Than Bacon

Delivering the flavor, texture and versatility of sausage in an innovative form, Johnsonville Sausage Strips are rolling out nationwide after a successful 2020 launch in the Midwest. The fully cooked strips, made with premium cuts of pork and containing no MSG, look and cook like bacon but offer smoked-sausage flavor, making them a welcome addition to a range of recipes. They’re available in four flavors: Original, Spicy, Maple and Chorizo. Found in the pre-cooked bacon section of supermarkets, the product line provides a leaner alternative to bacon, with 40% less fat and 30% less sodium, according to USDA data. Further, preparation is quick and convenient, with several heating methods that work for the strips, among them in the oven, on a stovetop, in an air fryer or on a grill. A 12-ounce package of about 12 strips of any variety retails for a suggested $4.99. https://www.johnsonville.com/

On the Boil

The leading U.S. rice company, Riviana Foods Inc., has launched Success Garden & Grains Blends, the first boil-in-bag product to combine high-quality rice with simple ingredients and no added sauces or seasonings. The product line comes in two varieties: White Rice, Black Beans, Corn & Bell Peppers and White Rice, Peas, Carrots & Red Bell Peppers. Packaged in two pre-portioned, BPA-free boil-in bags, the line is ready in just 10 minutes, and offers a no-measure, no-mess cooking experience. Each versatile blend can serve as a stand-alone dish or as a key recipe component. To provide consumers with additional inspiration, chefs at Riviana Foods’ test kitchen have developed recipes using the line, which, along with ingredient mix-ins and seasoning suggestions, appear on Success Garden & Grains Blends packaging. The suggested retail price is $2.19 per 7-ounce box of either variety. https://www.riviana.com/; https://successrice.com/

Savory Sips

Recently launched plant-based food and beverage company Yoi (“good” in Japanese) has brought out one-of-a-kind Probiotic Nut & Seedmilks, tart, subtly flavored beverages crafted in small batches from such simple organic ingredients as almonds, coconut and pumpkin seeds. Company co-founders Ellie Wells and Tosh Nakagawa, both dairy industry vets, were inspired by the ancient art of Japanese fermentation and the concept of ikigai, which Nakagawa describes as “ ‘your reason for being,’ or what gets you out of bed in the morning.” Seeing the opportunity in plant-based products, they decided to bring their knowledge and experience in cultured dairy foods to an emerging category. A 10-ounce bottle of Yoi Probiotic Nut & Seedmilk in Strawberry, Vanilla Bean, Pineapple or Cacao Nib flavors retails for a suggested $4.99, while a large 23-ounce bottle in Plain Unsweetened or Vanilla Bean flavors goes for a suggested $8.99. https://www.yoifresh.com/

Nuts for Chips

Plant-based pioneer Calbee North America Inc., maker of the popular Harvest Snaps brand, has now brought to market San Joaquin Almond Nut Chips, a grain-free tortilla chip line. Made from sustainably grown almonds, cassava flour and simple ingredients, the artisan-crafted snacks are lightly cooked in premium 100% avocado oil to deliver a delicate crunch. The line’s Sea Salt, Hickory Smoked and Wasabi flavors are all certified gluten- and grain-free and kosher, and contain no artificial colors and flavors, corn, or soy. San Joaquin’s name derives from California’s San Joaquin Valley, home to the ideal climate for growing high-quality almonds like those produced by Naraghi Family Farms, from where the almonds used in the snack line are sourced. Naraghi employs such sustainable farming methods as efficient irrigation, solar power, whole orchard recycling, composting, pest and weed management, and enhancing the habitat for pollinating bees. The suggested retail price is $4.99 per 5-ounce/4.5-ounce bag. https://calbeena.com/

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Global Inspiration

Reimagined for today’s world, Ferrara brand Famous Amos is now made with premium ingredients from across the globe, among them coconut from the Philippines, chocolate from Belgium, and hazelnuts from the Mediterranean. The Famous Amos Wonders From the World line consists of the brand’s signature bite-size crunchy cookies in three premium varieties: Belgian Chocolate Chips, Philippine Coconut and White Chocolate Chips, and Mediterranean Hazelnut and Chocolate Chips. Further, to reflect the relaunched brand’s cosmopolitan makeover, Famous Amos has refreshed the packaging with location-inspired graphics inviting consumers to enjoy the international offerings. A 7-ounce stand-up pantry bag of any of the cookie varieties retails for a suggested $4.49. https://www.famousamos.com/; http://www.ferrarausa.com

Baby’s First Mixes

The first organic baking mixes created for babies, Happy Family Organics’ Happy Baby Made Simple Baking Mixes are crafted with 100% whole grains, including wheat, oat and amaranth; 0 grams of added sugar; and iron to help support brain development. The convenient mixes can be prepared in five minutes or under, with consumers needing only to pour, stir and cook. Available in two nutritious options, Pancake & Waffle Mix and Apple Carrot & Cinnamon Muffin Mix, the items can also be customized with a halfcup of fresh fruit and veggies such as shredded carrots, mashed bananas or blueberries, or purées. Aware that many families use homemade breakfast foods to help expose babies to new textures and flavors and teach them to feed themselves, but that a lot of busy parents don’t have the time to make these items from scratch, Happy Family has come up with two no-fuss alternatives. Either variety retails for a suggested $4.99 per 8-ounce package. https://www.happyfamilyorganics.com/made-simple-baking-mixes/

Driving the Wedge

Good PLANeT Foods, a creator of premium plant-based allergen-free cheeses, has unveiled first-to-market snackable Plant-Based Cheese Wedges. Crafted with real, sustainable ingredients, including coconut oil and plant proteins, the creamy, convenient wedges are vegan; dairy-, gluten-, soy- and lactose-free; Certified NonGMO; and Keto Certified, and come in Original; spicy, melt-worthy Pepper Jack; and Smoked Gouda varieties. A 4-ounce pack with six individually wrapped wedges of any variety retails for a suggested $4.99. https://goodplanetfoods.com/

Oil to Order

Developed by celebrity chef and restaurateur Brian Malarkey, Chefs Life is a line of cooking oils custom blended for the home chef. Each oil is designed for a specific step in the creation of a dish. Sourced from Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Argentina, Chile, Ukraine, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Turkey and Morocco, the line comes in three varieties: Cooking Oil, a blend of avocado, olive, sunflower and grapeseed oils designed for sautéing, frying, roasting and searing, due to its high smoke point; Blending Oil, a combination of extra-virgin olive, avocado and grapeseed oils created for making salad dressings and baking, because of its mildness; and Finishing Oil, pure extra-virgin olive oil suitable for dipping or drizzling, thanks to its strong, peppery flavor. The idea for creating specific cooking oils for different culinary techniques came to Malarkey amid the pandemic while he was teaching home cooks through virtual cooking classes. A 16.9-ounce bottle of any variety retails for a suggested retail price range of $7.99-$9.99. Further, Chefs Life has teamed up with Golden Rule Charity, a national organization providing relief to restaurant and hospitality employees in need, to donate a portion of all proceeds back to the hospitality industry. https://chefslife.com/ https://www.goldenrulecharity.org/ PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2021

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AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT By Gina Acosta

Making Grocery Magic HOW “INSTANT NEEDS” COMPANIES SUCH AS GOPUFF ARE REDEFINING ONLINE GROCERY. few weeks ago, I was babysitting my niece and nephew, and we were out of groceries. Is there anything worse than taking care of a 7- and a 14-year-old who are hangry? I grabbed my purse and keys, and headed for the front door to go to the grocery store, but then it hit me: “instant needs.” I put my keys down, took off my shoes, grabbed my cellphone and thought about my recent trip to Las Vegas. A few days earlier in Nevada, I had attended Groceryshop and the NGA Show, where ultra-fast grocery delivery and micro-fulfillment were the major themes. Next-day, two-hour, one-hour and 30-minute delivery are no longer the holy grail; now companies with names such as 1520, Jokr, Fridge No More, Getir, Gorillas, Dija, Buyk and GoPuff promise low-fee, no-minimum-order, no-hassle grocery delivery in less than 30 minutes. Making a recipe and realize that you forgot to buy shredded mozzarella? Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and too sick to go buy an at-home test? Battling deadline fatigue at midnight and need a quick caffeinated pick-me-up? All of these vertically integrated startups can deliver cheese, diagnostic tests and Coca-Cola in less than half an hour from dark stores or micro-fulfillment warehouses operating 24 hours a day. Specifically, the CEO and co-founder of Philadelphia-based GoPuff, Yakir Gola, explained at Groceryshop that when he started his company, his “natural instinct was to control the customer experience from day one, because we’ll have better margins long-term by making margins off product sales and by controlling the customer experience through the delivery time and the actual experience. We call our category ‘instant needs.’ It has evolved tremendously from eight years ago, and it is continuously evolving.” Gola’s startup delivers more than 4,000 SKUs in 20 minutes or less from 500 micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) — and growing — across the United States and in Europe for a flat fee of $1.95 per order. He told the Groceryshop audience that his company, which revealed a $1 billion funding round in July and is valued at around $15 billion, is opening 40 to 50 MFCs a month in the United States. “The delivery fee is only $2, because our margins don’t come from

The road to profitability in grocery e-commerce is elusive, but that means nothing to consumers, who expect their vegan waffles to be delivered in 15 minutes flat.

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service fees from restaurants or other stores,” he explained. GoPuff also doesn’t have a minimum order, so if all you need is a bag of cheese or a Coke, that’s all you have to order. GoPuff and other instant-delivery grocers leveraging micro fulfillment are raising the stakes in the last-mile race, and grocers of all shapes and sizes are taking notice. Recently, Kroger teamed up with Instacart to offer fresh groceries, household items and other key essentials delivered in 30 minutes nationwide (Unlike GoPuff’s offering, the Kroger service has higher fees and a $10 minimum order). The road to profitability in grocery e-commerce is elusive, but that means nothing to consumers, who expect their vegan waffles to be delivered in 15 minutes flat. Low-cost, no-minimum, ultra-fast delivery is becoming a musthave for grocery retailers if they aim to compete with unicorns such as GoPuff. My experience ordering GoPuff groceries while I was on babysitting duty couldn’t have been any more magical: I ordered around eight grocery items – chilled, frozen, ambient — and they all arrived in a sealed plastic bag at my doorstep exactly 20 minutes later. Turning the mundane into magic sounds like a good value proposition for the grocery store of the future. Gina Acosta Executive Editor gacosta@ensemleiq.com


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